Footscray have put a severe dent in the finals aspirations of the Northern Blues following their come-from-behind win in round sixteen of the VFL at Ikon Park. The Bulldogs trailed by 26 points at the final change but booted six goals to nil in the final quarter to win 12.8.80 to 10.7.67.
After a fine start to the season the Blues have now lost seven of their last eight games and face top eight teams in their final three matches of the season. Former Blue, Billy Gowers, kicked three goals for Footscray, two of them in the first quarter, and provided headaches all day for the Blues defenders. Fletcher Roberts, normally found in defence, was pivotal in the Bulldogs win booting two last quarter goals from strong pack marks.
Bulldog's champion, Matthew Boyd, controlled things down back racking up many possessions and he was ably supported by Josh Dunkley and Anthony Barry. Kristian Jaksch kicked a game-high four goals for the Blues while Cam O'Shea and Mason Blakey worked hard in defence and Rhys Palmer continued his good season winning a lot of ball through the midfield.
Conditions were cool in Carlton for the 11am start until the sun broke through as both sides swapped forward fifty entries but struggled to make the most of opportunities; only three goals kicked in the first quarter. Both Gowers and Jaksch were doing the damage at either end as both sides found scoring easier in the second quarter. Bulldog's ruckman Tim English was doing his best to give his smaller teammates first of the ball while Boyd was the general down back.
The Blues went to the sheds two points up at the main break 5.3.33 to 5.1.31. The third quarter was all the home side, kicking with the aid of what now felt like a three or four goal wind to the Legends Stand end, they slammed on five unanswered goals to open up a 26-point lead at the final change.
The Bulldog's worked hard to generate inside 50 entries however turnovers cost them as the likes of Dylan Buckley (20 disposals), Luke Russell and skipper Tom Wilson found plenty of the football to provide their forwards with opportunities at goal.
Footscray responded quickly in the final term when Nick Jamieson (24 disposals) goaled on the run. Roberts was moved forward to provide a taller marking target and the move paid off when he kicked the next two goals to have them within four points at the eighteen minute mark.
Patrick Lipinski (20 touches) marked another Bulldogs thrust shortly after and kicked truly to put them back in front. Goals then to Matthew Goodyear and Liam Nash sealed the game for the Dogs to place them a game clear inside the top four with three rounds remaining.
The Blues are one game out of the top eight with a difficult draw in the final three rounds. Better players for Footscray included Will Hayes (27 disposals), Gowers with his three goals, Dunkley (26), Lauchlan Dalgleish (23) and Roberts after shifting forward.
Northern Blue's captain, Tom Wilson (30 touches), again figured in his side's best along with Russell (29), Palmer (29), O'Shea (24) in defence and Irishman Ciaran Byrne (27) all contributed. Footscray have the bye in round seventeen while the Northern Blues will be looking to keep their finals hopes alive when they take on the sixth placed Casey Demons away in a tough road trip.
For full match details log onto the VFL website here