Phoenix stamps their claim

Melton Phoenix knocked off the ladder leaders. (supplied)

Tara Murray

Melton Phoenix did its title hopes no harm in the FV state league 5 west with a big win in the top-of-the-table clash with Barwon.

After a couple of average weeks, the Phoenix set themselves for the biggest test in the competition.

Having lost 4-0 last time when they played in Barwon, the Phoenix knew they had to play well to get this match back.

Barwon headed down the highway to Melton with the opportunity to extend its lead at the top of the table to eight points.

But it was the Phoenix who controlled the game and were able to come away with a 2-0 win.

Phoenix coach Darren Traynor said the win was a massive one in the context of the season.

“We started really well and were able to maintain it for the duration of the game,” he said.

“We got our rewards. I thought we were a better team and we also got a clean sheet.”

Traynor said it felt like that the two teams went in with different aims from the match. He said while they were keen to get the win, he thought Barwon was happy to get a draw.

“It felt like Barwon was happy to get a point from the match.”

Traynor said their work rate hadn’t been where they wanted it to be the last couple of weeks and this was a return to the form they wanted to see.

He said when they’re in that sort of form, they can beat any team.

“We were really positive and on the front foot,” he said.

“What we saw yesterday against Barwon, who is the top team, is that we were clearly the better team.

“We were the better team for the first half when we played them the first time, before some dubious calls in the second half.

“We have to maintain this form this week and for the rest of the season.”

The win reduces the gap between the Phoenix and Barwon to just two points with seven rounds remaining.

Balmoral and Deakin University both sit behind the Phoenix and still in the mix for top spot. The Phoenix face Deakin this week.

Traynor said they know that they can’t let off with a number of hard matches still to go.

The top two sides are set to earn promotion.

“We’re going week by week, but I want the title and that is what we are aiming for,” he said.

“The club would be happy if we got promoted, but as coach I would like to win it.”

In state league 1 north-west, ladder leaders Caroline Springs George Cross’ match with Strathmore on Friday night washed out and set to be played at a later date.

In state league 4 west, Spring Hills lost to Gisborne, 2-0. The Stallions sit bottom with just one win.

Westside Strikers upset top side Keilor Wolves, 2-0. The side remains in third, but has played one game less than the top two sides.