Pre-season form continued to be bright for the Goulburn Valley Suns, beating last season’s National Premier League Two champion Dandenong City on Saturday.
Again, a first-half blitz showed the Suns at their dangerous best, scoring three times as the newly-promoted NPL side crumbled in the Shepparton heat.
The Suns found an opener through prolific coach Craig Carley that City answered soon after, but Alou Kuol and Matt Lelliott would also net in the opening 45 minutes.
City pulled a goal back with a late penalty, but it was a mere consolation as the Suns won 3-2 to continuing strong winning form.
Carley said his side’s output was another product of a tough off-season slog, geared towards surging up the table in next month’s new season.
‘‘We played really well again, the boys have upped the ante every week in training,’’ he said.
‘‘They’re looking fitter and sharper all the time, and certainly that first 45 minutes where we led 3-1 we were really dominant. I’m just really happy with the way the boys are progressing.
‘‘We’ve changed away a bit from the style we’re used to, we’re implementing a new plan and the boys are taking to it well.
‘‘We’ve got good leaders and good characters in the changerooms, and that’s certainly something we think will help get the best out of our players.’’
It added to the Suns’ collection of impressive pre-season results that includes wins against Murray United, Moama-Echuca, Myrtleford and North Sunshine.
While off-season signings Jacob Lever and Ahmet Turer continued to build before the new season, it was the form of an old face that had Carley excited.
‘‘We played without Jordan Barrow with a slight calf still, but we got from Matty Lelliott probably the best game I’ve seen him play in a GV Suns shirt,’’ he said.
‘‘He was absolutely everywhere and that just proves to me we are moving in the right direction.
‘‘You can never be completely sure without playing in competitive games, but if we can recreate this form in the league, we’ll be in a good position come February 16.’’
It is hard to look at the Suns’ front third without salivating, but Carley stressed defensive improvement would be the side’s key to moving up the table.
‘‘We have signed Ahmet Turer who is a big, strong, natural centre-forward, it’s just about getting the boys in around him,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ll still have Billy Marshall in that final third and he scored some cracking goals last year, as well as Alou playing in that slightly wider position like last season. He is just producing the goods every game.
‘‘But I can’t stress enough, our focus is on not letting in goals. Last year we scored enough goals, but we conceded 2.5 goals a game and our focus is on shoring that up.’’
The Suns’ under-20s fell 4-1 to State League Three side Williamstown, with Liam Nash scoring the side’s goal.