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By Connor Schmidtke

Surrey Park are making a late charge up the ladder in Division Four, winning five straight games to catapult them into third position just three weeks out from finals.

 

The Panthers started their year in shaky fashion, winning just four of their opening eight games to sit middle of the pack, but their form over the past month has been incredible, helping them to claim a finals spot with just three rounds to go and keep their double chance hopes alive.

 

Surrey Park’s highlight of the year came during this run, when they claimed a tight victory over the previously unbeaten Silvan. To this point of the year, the Panthers remain the only team to have beaten the ladder leaders, an important confidence booster before finals.

 

All of this has come about since a change of coach, with David Jensen departing the club mid-season, leaving the newly recruited James Kenworthy to take the reins as interim master.

 

When asked about their recent form, Kenworthy said a lot of it came down to a bit more self-belief.

 

“I think it’s been a bit of self-belief, and trusting our process and how we go about playing footy,

 

“Earlier in the year, we weren’t quite getting reward for effort. We worked on a few things and the boys are playing a much better brand of footy. Now we can recognise how we want to play, and the rewards are coming.”

 

The win over Silvan looks like being an important one, not just for Surrey Park’s finals hopes but with a potential clash looming in the postseason.

 

Kenworthy said it gave them some insight in how to matchup heading forward.

 

“Silvan have been awesome all year. Their greatest strength is their forward line, so for us it was about winning the midfield.

 

“If we have the ball in our possession, we restrict their chance of getting it forward. We purely wanted to win the ball at the source and help to take the game out of their hands.”

 

Kenworthy said despite the challenges of being a playing coach, he has found a nice balance between being a player and a coach as the season went on.

 

“Since I’ve been back (from a broken thumb) the past few weeks, I’ve had good support on the sidelines. I’ve had ex-players come onboard to help me out the rest of the year, and a couple of injured players helping me out on the bench during gameday.

 

“I’ve got a really good support network on the sidelines, so I can focus on playing while I’m out there which has found a pretty good balance.”

 

Surrey Park will face Chirnside Park this week in another huge clash, with the winner likely to squeeze into second spot come seasons end, before remaining games against Forest Hill and Silvan to round out the regular season.

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