The Ballarat Red Devils will be hoping to recreate some of their form from earlier in the year when they face Melbourne City at Morshead Park on Saturday afternoon.
The round seven clash between the two sides was the match that spurred the Reds onto an impressive five game winning streak earlier in the season.
After just two wins from the opening six rounds of the season, the Reds showed enormous poise when they traveled down to La Trobe University, fighting hard for a 1-0 victory against one of the state’s most talented young sides.
Three months later, and the Red Devils again find themselves in need of a confidence-boosting triumph over a highly regarded opponent. At sixth on the ladder, the Reds have seven games left to make a real dent on the outcome of the National Premier Leagues Two West competition.
Ballarat Coach James Robinson said while there have been some encouraging signs from his charges in recent weeks, ensuring the basics were done well would be crucial to taking a scalp on what will likely be a wet afternoon at Morshead.
“It’s about making sure we do the simple things at the right tempo from the very start,” Robinson said. “We want to finish the campaign in the best possible way.”
While the Reds have been forced to work their way back into contests in the last fortnight after conceding early in the piece, they will take confidence from a blistering end to their draw with Werribee on Sunday which saw youngster Michael Mullins head home the equaliser with just seconds to spare.
Robinson said the goal was testament to the 17-year-old’s work ethic, which has seen him move from Warrnambool to Ballarat to be a part of the Red Devils squad.
“Michael’s shown great character and enthusiasm and energy, and he has shown a real desire to put himself in the right positions to do well,” Robinson said.
The men in red will also be pleased with the return of Charlie King, who after enjoying a rich vein of form earlier in the year was forced to watch on from the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
In Melbourne City the Devils will face a side who is down on confidence after losing its last three outings to some of the competition’s heavy hitters. City has slumped to fifth place on the ladder after climbing to the top of the table in round 14, and a loss on Saturday would put Ballarat in striking distance of making the jump.
“Their form might be suggesting one thing, but they’re going to turn up to play,” Robinson said.
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