Ballarat City’s hopes of promotion may be over, but it is still aiming to finish the National Premier League two west season strongly.
City has won just one match and a draw in its past five matches, with the better performances coming over the past fortnight.
It faces Melbourne Victory, which surprisingly sits ninth on the ladder, at Epping Stadium on Saturday
Coach Danny Gnjidic said it was important that the group ended the season well to reward it with a truthful ladder position to reflect what has been a positive season.
“There’s a bit of congestion between fifth and ninth – we want to finish as high as possible,” Gnjidic said.
“A top-half-of-the-table finish in a 10-team comp is the least we deserve for our efforts. (But) you don’t get judged on effort, you get judged on results, it’s important we get something out of this game to ensure we finish as high as possible.”
City will welcome the return of experienced duo Shaun Romein and Liam Harding who are back in the squad after serving their suspensions.
Since Ballarat last played Victory in round 14, Victory has posted just two wins and a draw in 12 outings.
Gnjidic said the poor run of form came as a surprise to him given Victory’s talent.
Aside from the dominant three teams, Victory has the most proficient offense with 52 goals, Gnjidic was wary of allowing Victory to play to its strengths.
“They’re really capable if we don’t shut them down.
“Clearly their strength is in attack and we haven’t had a clean sheet for a while – our defensive record is something we need to improve.
“It has the potential to be a shootout, but to be fair if it does turn into that, we may end up on the wrong end.”