NPLV: Ballarat Red Devils still optimistic after defeat

Simon Murphy (Red Devils) attempts to control the ball.

Simon Murphy (Red Devils) attempts to control the ball.

A POORLY timed clearance from defence might yet play a significant role in shaping Ballarat Red Devils’ fate for the 2014 National Premier Leagues Victoria season.

The McDonalds Reds suffered a 1-0 loss to Dandenong Thunder in round 22 action at Morshead Park on Saturday.

A seemingly elementary kick out of the danger zone immediately turned sour when Dandenong player Kieran Dover capitalised with the only goal of the match at the 62-minute mark.

Red Devils player manager James Robinson said Dover tried to block the rebounding thrust and deflected the ball past Red Devil keeper Aaron Romein into the far corner of the net.

The goal came against the tide as the Red Devils dominated play for most of the opening stanza.

“We dominated the game, we had a lot of possession and a lot of chances,” Robinson said.

“They had one chance in the first half and that was saved by Aaron Romein.”

Romein’s save, which turned a sizzling Feston Azizi strike past the post, sparked the Reds into action.

Nelson Salvatore sent a shot of his own inches over the cross bar moments later after a promising build-up from Sean Harding.

Both sides entered the half-time at 0-0, but returned after the break with much higher intensity.

The fiery contest saw Thunder reduced to 10 men when Alan Kearney was handed his second yellow card three minutes after Dover’s goal.

The visitors subsequently played a defence-orientated second half that held the pressing Reds at bay for the final 25 minutes of action.

Ballarat’s loss leaves it in second last spot on the ladder, now six points shy of Werribee City and Port Melbourne as it hunts to avoid the relegation zone.

However, Robinson firmly believes his side remains in control of their destiny over the next crucial month of football.

“We’re still controlling what we do and we can still control the outcome,” he said.

“We’ve still got two games on hand (catch-up matches and) that puts us on level pegging.”

Red Devils play an away match against Hume City next Sunday before a season-defining clash against Werribee on August 23.

michael.pollock@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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