With the Football Federation Victoria state leagues having their mid-winter break for catch-up games last weekend, Lance Jenkinson ponders how the Wyndham clubs are performing and their prospects for the rest of the season …
Division: State league 3 north-west.
Ladder position: 1st, 32 points, +15 goal difference.
Story so far: Hoppers Crossing stepped into the land of the unknown as a newly promoted club this season.
The Reds arrived with a big reputation having claimed the premiership a tier down last season, but no one could have foreseen their grand entrance in the higher division.
Under new coach Steve Iosifidis, the Reds have opened up a massive seven-point gap at the top of the ladder built on the back of the stingiest defence in the league.
They are the only team in the competition to have conceded less than a goal a game and have a more than adequate strike force to be considered the premiership favourite.
The key games: Twice the Reds have played blockbuster games against second-placed Altona City and twice they have come out with one-goal wins. Those two key encounters might be remembered as decisive in the race for the title.
The forecast: Seven points is a huge gap – it will take a collapse of dramatic proportions for the Reds not to win the title from here. We say they will be promoted for a second year as title winners.
This weekend: Lalor United, away, Saturday.
Division: State league 4 west.
Ladder position: 2nd, 26 points, +3 goal difference.
Story so far: On its day, Point Cook can beat any other team in the division, as it has shown on a regular basis. Only problem is, you never know which Jets team is going to show up.
The Jets are prone to put up the “gone fishing” sign on occasions, resulting in blow-out losses and hits to their goal difference.
This has been put down to a young and developing list of players who might actually be playing above themselves.
If the Jets can limit their off days of the kind that resulted in a 6-0 loss to Truganina, 4-1 to Brimbank and 5-1 to Melton Phoenix – there is no reason why they cannot reach for the ultimate prize.
The key games: When the Jets beat current ladder leaders Maribyrnong Greens 4-0 in round two, a week after opening the season with a six-goal loss to Truganina, they proved they are worthy of being included in promotion discussion.
The forecast: Did the rest come at the right time for the young team? Are the Jets re-focused and ready to produce consistently week in week out from here on out? If they do, they might be promoted a season earlier than expected. But with experienced sides nipping at their heels, they are going to find it hard.
This weekend: Surf Coast, home, Saturday.
Division: State league 4 west.
Ladder position: 10th, 13 points, -6 goal difference.
Story so far: A mid-season coaching change is a telltale sign of trouble.
Injuries, defections and patchy form have all hurt the Hornets, who started the year so promisingly with a 6-0 opening day win over Point Cook but have fallen away ever since.
There is one goal for the Hornets from here – avoid relegation.
The performances have improved but the points have dried up and the Hornets are precariously placed at third last.
The key games: Derbies against Point Cook had results that were worlds apart and probably underlined where the Hornets were at on each occasion. They were flying in round one with a 6-0 win but lost 4-0 three weeks ago.
The forecast: The short term is gloomy, with top side Maribyrnong Greens visiting the nest this weekend. But after that, the draw opens up a bit for the Hornets, presenting a number of opportunities to pick up points that should see them stave off relegation.
This weekend: Maribyrnong Greens, home, Saturday night.