Carlton have secured a berth in the semi-finals of the Bartercard Victorian Premier League after accounting for Essendon at Princess Park #1 Oval in their quarter final on the weekend. The Blues now face Ringwood away in the hope of securing a grand final berth and their first flag since the 1980/81 season.
For the Bombers it was a disappointing end to the season after they reached the final last year losing to Footscray-Edgewater. Carlton recovered to post 256 but given the Bombers depth it looked within their reach, however on the second day, promising opening bowler, Ryan Sidebottom, had a day out for the Blues taking 5-42, including the first five wickets, to steer his side home by 61 runs.
The day before Essendon skipper Aiden Blizzard had won the toss and sent the home side in with a tinge of green on the wicket. Both sides were missing key players with the Bombers opening bowler Louis Cameron out with injury and Carlton without captain/coach Tim Welsford. Clint McKay had the Blues on the backfoot early with the wickets of opener Jake Hancock (13) and number three Donovan Pell (6) before Mark Phelan (48) and Lachlan McKenna (16) added 40 for the third wicket.
Phelan and McKenna fell to spinner Nish Perera soon after to have the Blues nervous at 4-99. Thomas Smyth and acting captain Nathan Pilon restored some order with a 61-run partnership but when Smyth departed for a well made 53, it triggered a middle-order collapse.
Carlton lost 4 for 17 and looked in trouble at 8-177. The Bombers bowlers had worked hard and it seemed they would restrict Carlton to below 200.
However, tailenders Cameron Stevenson (46no) and Sidebottom (34) had other ideas. They combined for a match-winning 79-run partnership which enabled the Blues to post a challenging total; one that would test the Bombers hitters.
The pick of the Essendon bowlers was McKay 4-56 and Matt Doric 4-59. At stumps on the first day Essendon had reached 29 without loss.
Early wickets for the Blues on day two was crucial. Sidebottom snared openers Ben McRae (4) and Shane McNamara (19) to have the Bombers in bother at 2-42.
Skipper Blizzard (71) joined Aaron Ayre (43) and the pair combined for 66 runs but it was to be the only resistance for the day. Essendon lost their last eight wickets for just 87 runs to be all out for 195 off 71.1 overs.
Sidebottom capping off a fine match with 5-42 from 22 overs to go with his valuable knock the previous day. The only concern for the Blues an injury to paceman Nick Austin when in his eighth over early on the final day.