Footscray have advanced to a VFL semi-final after a nail-biting win over Essendon in the elimination final at Fortburn Stadium in Port Melbourne. The Bulldogs trailed by four goals early into the third quarter but rallied to kick eight of the next nine goals to edge past the Bombers and book a date with Port Melbourne next Sunday, winning 14.12.96 to 13.13.91.
Tom Boyd booted a game-high four goals and finished with thirteen disposals in a fine performance while Clay Smith had nineteen touches and booted two important third quarter goals. The retiring Matthew Boyd (above) collected 24 disposals and kicked one goal as his career stretches another week.
Footscray kicked with the aid of the wind towards the Williamstown road end in the first quarter and it was both Boyds who got them rolling helping themselves to goals, two in Tom's case to take a thirteen point lead at the first change. The second term was all Essendon as they made use of the wind more effectively, piling on six goals to one with Shaun McKernan kicking two and former Coburg forward, Daniel Younan providing plenty of spark with two first-half goals.
The Bombers went to the main break with an eighteen point lead - 8.5.53 to 5.5.35 - and they looked more dangerous going forward and had all the momentum. That continued a minute into the third quarter when Alex Boyse goaled to stretch their lead to 24 points. However Footscray responded and when Andrew Tashevski-Beckwith kicked truly in the fourteenth minute, the Dogs were a point in front.
They went to the final break seven points up and the healthy crowd at Port Melbourne were none the wiser as to who would advance. Goals to Lukas Webb and a gem from Tom Boyd on the boundary line at the northern end increased the Bulldog's lead to eighteen points nearing the half-way mark of the final quarter. The Bombers needed a spark. Younan was well held in the second half by Bailey Williams and Aaron Francis didn't reappear after the final change due to injury.
Nick Hind lifted the Bombers with a nice goal on the run followed by skipper Nick O'Brien who was accurate from a set shot and all of a sudden the margin was back to six points. Footscray got a steadier thanks to quick thinking from Hayes close to goal and under pressure from O'Brien. But shortly after McKernan marked and played on, using the wind to boot a fine goal from well out to make the difference just five points.
However time ran out for Essendon, Footscray reversing their round eighteen loss to the Bombers by the exact same margin. Better players for the Bulldogs included Smith, Matthew Boyd, Billy Gowers and Nick De Steiger while for the Bombers Matt Dea worked hard in defence, Sam Draper had a fine duel with De Steiger in the ruck, Craig Bird (20 disposals) and McKernan all impressed.
For full match details log onto the VFL website here