By Mitch Turner
After a slow start to season 2021, premiership hopefuls Croydon are starting to find their stride, following a convincing 39 point victory over Park Orchards at Stintons Reserve.
The Blues are 3-1 and sit 4th on the Division One ladder, with only percentage separating them and second-placed East Ringwood.
However, it has by no means been smooth sailing for Morris D’Alessandro’s men, with an opening round loss to the aforementioned Roos, followed by two scrappy wins against winless sides Bayswater and Upper Ferntree Gully.
Not a terrible start in terms of wins and losses, but far from one that could be used to back up their premiership-favourite credentials.
D’Alessandro himself admitted that early on in the season his side was “not quite playing the way we wanted to play.”
“We played really good football in patches”, he said, however they could not quite manage to produce a consistent and clinical start-to-finish performance.
“We’ve been away from the game for 18 months”, he added, acknowledging that it would take some time for the rust to wear off from such a long period without footy.
The coach went on to note that his club “made a few big signings over the break, and it was always going to take a little bit of time for these boys to gel”.
One of those recruits was former Lilydale junior, Joel Koger, who was named in the Blues’ best last weekend against Park Orchards as well as in their win over Upper Ferntree Gully.
New addition Dale Hehir (Rowville) has also made an impact, as he found the goals on two occasions against the Sharks, while Jayden Cyster (Rowville), Isaac Biasuzzo (Vermont) and Tori Klaas-Henry (Lilydale) have also made solid contributions throughout the season thus far.
The win over Park Orchards appears to represent a significant milestone in the team’s development this season.
D’Alessandro said he was very encouraged by the way his men were “playing the game on our terms,” against the previously undefeated Sharks.
Casting eyes to next weekend, Croydon has a matchup against another 3-1 team in Mitcham, who have impressed onlookers in season 2021, with many expecting them to be close to the bottom end of the division.
Some might suggest this game is of particular importance for Croydon, not only to back up their strong showing last weekend, but also to separate themselves from the pack forming around 2nd-5th place in the division, with each of the four teams sitting on 12 points apiece.
D’Alessandro was quick to downplay the Mitcham clash, noting that “every game is important.”
He did, however, acknowledge that the Tigers are a very strong side. “(You) can’t underestimate a club that’s won a premiership … they’ll have systems in place”, he said.
“It’s really important for us to have a good performance”.
Croydon take on the Tigers at Croydon Oval this Saturday, starting at 2.10pm.