COULD Echuca United be a real contender for the Murray league flag this year?
Coach Guy Campbell thinks so.
And don’t be fooled by the Eagles’ incredibly poor start to the season.
They’re 3-4 now, sitting inside the top eight, following a victory in the Campaspe Cup against Tongala.
But the Eagles have some higher ambitions.
‘‘We aim to stay there (in the top eight) and aim to be top four this year,’’ Campbell said.
What a difference a win makes.
The result was going to make a huge difference to whoever claimed the win with that spot inside the eight on the line.
And the Eagles were the side that took the opportunity.
United kicked 8.2 in the first half, limiting the Blues to just 1.6.
Tongala coach Jordan Souter said his side simply failed to take their opportunities in the early stages of the game.
“We probably had the same amount of the ball in that first half,” he said.
“We didn’t use the football anywhere near as well as they did, we didn’t take our chances in front of goals and it backfired on us in the end.”
United had clearly been the best side in the early stages, but injuries began to take their toll directly after the break.
“We probably dropped away slightly in the first 10 minutes and then the injuries started to come so we had a quarter-and-a-half without a bench,” Campbell said.
The Blues outscored United for the remainder of the day, booting 7.2 in the second half.
With the Blues making their late charge, and United without a full side, the home side could only hang for the remainder of the game.
“We were able to make a bit of charge in the second half but were coming from a fair way back,” Souter said.
“It was a tough position for us to be in as a club,’’ he said.
‘‘But we were incredibly happy with how the boys responded in the second half to try and pull us back into the game.
“Unfortunately, we had let them get too far away from us in the early stages of the game.
‘‘We put a bit of pressure on the scoreboard in the final quarter, but honestly I don’t think we were ever in the game in the final quarter.”
Campbell said he was happy with his team’s work rate to hold on in the final stages.
“We went from being disappointed with our start to being thankful that we had a great half and ground the day out.
‘‘They came out firing but still felt we were in control.”
Now, United are starting to look to the remainder of their season.
They are obviously aware of their start, but think early season form should not be an indicator of where they are going.
“We’re very aware of where we were at in the first handful games but there was a still a belief there growing that we could do it and we deserve it. It’s better to have the wake up calls early.”
United turn their attention to the other Eagles of the competition, Shepparton East, this week.
While Tongala have some things to think about during their bye.
‘‘We’re going to take Tuesday off from training,’’ Souter said.
‘‘It’s a long season, so you need to keep everyone mentally and physically switched on. We will get back into it on Thursday and start having a look at what we need to do differently in our next match.’’