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SOCCER TO ME by JVM

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I was watching Australia’s World Cup hopes sink late the other night when it’s soccer team lived up to its usual standards of hard work and endeavour without the ability to finish off and gain the full measure of reward for effort. All of us know that the Aussies are minnows in the world game and they have been pushing uphill since the very start of their campaign some three years ago but in the end, the composure was not there and the ability to finish was missing in Russia.

I think the same thing might apply to the Melbourne Football Club as it goes about its own campaign to make the AFL finals this year. We have twice seen the Demons dominate possession against top eight opponents in Geelong and then Port Adelaide but failing to finish off their spectacular advantages in themselves of getting the ball into places from where they should be scoring - and doing so heavily.

Against the Cats, they dominated the inside 50 count by 64 to 41 and lost a close game by 3 points. The advantage in that statistic was even greater against the Power (68-39) with the home side winning by 11 points and the Dees managing a pitiful ratio of less than 1 point per forward 50 entry.

We know that players like Jesse Hogan and Christian Perracca had poor nights at the Adelaide Oval but the figures simply don’t add up because everywhere else around the ground, there was plenty of endeavour shown (oh, and yes, they were stymied somewhat by the noise of affirmation from the crowd that made the officiating umpires another obstacle on their road to victory but they have to live with that).

No offence to the opposition this week but I can’t see the Saints exerting the same pressure that Port Adelaide did at home. However, Simon Goodwin now has his work cut out to restore his side to its revered position of just a month ago and this week’s fixture will do nothing to convince us that they’ve redeemed themselves.

*** Scroll for Prediction ***

THE GAME

Melbourne v St Kilda at the MCG on Sunday 1 July 2018 at 1.10pm

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Melbourne 121 wins St Kilda 91 wins 1 drawn

At Etihad Stadium Melbourne 59 wins St Kilda 35 wins 

Past five meetings Melbourne 3 wins St Kilda 2 wins 

The Coaches Goodwin 3 wins Richardson 0 wins 

MEDIA

TV - Fox Footy Channel Live at 1.00pm

RADIO - SEN ABC ABC Grandstand

THE LAST TIME THEY MET 

Melbourne 16.10.106 defeated St Kilda 9.13.67 at Etihad Stadium, Round 7, 2018

The Demons were in control for most of the game against the wasteful Saints. Ruckman Max Gawn was in stellar form and midfielder Clayton Oliver was a prolific ball winner.

THE TEAMS  

MELBOURNE

B: Harry Petty, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta
HB: Michael Hibberd, Joel Smith, Jordan Lewis
C:Christian Petracca, Jack Viney, Angus Brayshaw
HF: Christian Salem, Jesse Hogan, Clayton Oliver
F: Alex Neal-Bullen, Mitch Hannan, Tom McDonald
Foll: Max Gawn, Jake Melksham, Nathan Jones
I/C: Bayley Fritsch, James Harmes,  Dom Tyson, Sam Weideman

Emg: Cameron Pedersen, Charlie Spargo, Billy Stretch, Bernie Vince

In: Harry Petty, Sam Weideman

Out: Tim Smith (omitted) Bernie Vince (omitted)

New: Harry Petty (Norwood) 
 
ST KILDA
 
B: Daniel McKenzie, Nathan Brown, Bailey Rice 
HB: Jarryn Geary, Jake Carlisle, Shane Savage 
C:Jack Newnes, Jack Steele, Jack Sinclair 
HF: Jack Billings, Paddy McCartin, Maverick Weller 
F: Jade Gresham, Tim Membrey, Josh Battle 
Foll: Billy Longer, Sebastian Ross, Jack Steven 
I/C: David Armitage, Hunter Clark, Luke Dunstan,  Darragh Joyce   
Emg: Sam Gilbert, Ben Paton, Lewis Pierce, Nathan Wright
 
In: Jarryn Geary, Sam Gilbert, Darragh Joyce Ben Paton, Lewis Pierce, Nathan Wright
 
Out Logan Austin (omitted), Jimmy Webster (Injured) 
 
New: Darragh Joyce (Ireland)

They meet for the second time in the space of two months but this time it's the Saints that are on a winning streak of one (thanks to a rousing comeback from the dead against the hapless Suns who can't play out a game) while the Demons have lost their last two, their last outing being a disaster where they too, failed to play out the game.

And while the relative strength of the opposition is like cheese against chalk, Melbourne is on notice and, according to coach Simon Goodwin, there is some sort of "disconnect" between the team's ability to get the football into a scoring position and its ability to make things count once it gets there.

We've been used to claiming for years that its all about the midfield but just when that aspect of the team is reaching a peak, the letdown in front of goal is a major cause for concern. A little bit of reshuffling in that part of the team make up would assist.

I still can't help but think about the knack the Demons have of finding new ways to disappoint. Last year, it was all of those inexplicable lapses which enabled defeat to be snatched from the jaws of victory and which culminated in the narrowest of misses when it came to making the finals. This season, it's that disconnect between forward opportunities and winning scores that has kept the side out of the top four.

I'm hoping that the AFL doesn't introduce a rule like FIFA’s fair play rule that saw Senegal become the first-ever team to be eliminated from the World Cup this week because I can just see Melbourne becoming its first victim of things get close at finals time.

I suppose that just about sums up the Demons and our supporters- we suffer from a fear of hurdles.

Against the Saints on our own home turf however, I think we’ll get over it.

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