Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Blues put hand up for premiership challenge

Shepparton United has knocked over Shepparton South to stake its claims as a genuine Regional Premier League premiership contender.

MATTHEW GALEA August 12, 2014 3:05am

Shepparton United proved this year’s Regional Premier League premiership is no foregone conclusion on Sunday.

The Blues travelled to McEwen Reserve to take on league winner Shepparton South and left with three points and a 4-0 victory.

Manny Soetan got the day off to a glorious start for United when he pounced on a defensive error from Nick Murphy to put the Blues 1-0 up in the early stages of the game.

A Southerners own-goal from a quality Soetan corner before half-time doubled the Blues’ advantage.

Fahed Alghazaly made it 3-0 after the break when he turned home another Soetan corner, before Ben Shepherd completed the rout following a straight red card to Southerner’s goalkeeper Lee Allen.

While the result was something of a surprise to United playing coach Nick Kalafatis, the performance that delivered it was not.

‘‘We’ve been really improving the last eight weeks and yesterday we just put our chances away,’’ Kalafatis said.

‘‘We were confident and we played the way we want to play.

‘‘When you’re confident on the ball, you’re always going to be in the game ... but this is only one game and it doesn’t change anything for us.’’

Kalafatis was forced to watch from the sidelines after Football Federation Victoria handed down a two-game suspension following an incident against Tatura seven weeks ago.

His absence did not cause too many headaches in the end, but Kalafatis said his players had to keep their heads down.

‘‘We still need points from Cobram to finish second and we’ve only gotten to where we are by working hard.’’

Reno Lia said his side lost enough games last season to know what it feels like to lose a game, and while it is the first his side has suffered this season, he felt the performance came down to a lack of hunger.

‘‘You’re always aware there might be a loss around the corner, that’s just the nature of sport,’’ Lia said.

‘‘They were the team that looked like it was playing for second spot and we were the team that looked like we had nothing to play for.

‘‘We were very, very flat and that’s disappointing.’’

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