EFL: South Croydon beaten on the siren by Rowville as interim coach addresses relegation

South Croydon was beaten on the buzzer on Saturday – but the interim coach remains upbeat his club can avoid relegation …

IT was heartbreak for South Croydon at the death – but interim coach Damien Franken remains upbeat as his club looks to avoid relegation at season’s end.

The Bulldogs were pipped by a finals-bound Rowville on Saturday with the Hawks sinking the hosts on the final siren, courtesy of a last-gasp goal from Nashua Wood.

“We were one point up with about five seconds to go – we ended up clearing our defensive area and it went out on the full … and so the Rowville guy was fortunate enough to kick the goal on the siren – the siren blew just after it went through the goals,” Franken said.

South Croydon raced out to a 31-point quarter-time lead before Rowville edged ahead at the half – but the hosts wrestled back the momentum in the third term to snare a 15-point advantage at the final change.

It’s the Bulldogs’ fifth loss by a kick or less this season – and sixth by under 12 points – but Franken remained proud of his group’s fight on Saturday.

“The guys really deserved the win – they did everything right on the track and that translated on the ground,” he said.

“Rowville’s a good side and they took the big moments at the time.

“The guys are very positive and working hard and I’m sure a win’s not far away.

“There’s a number of games that have been under a kick or close enough, it’s a reflection sometimes that it’s a game of inches.”

The Bulldogs sit 11th on the ladder of the Premier Division’s 12 teams with a 3-12 record – eight points ahead of Doncaster with one win and 14 losses, and four points behind Park Orchards.

The bottom two clubs will be relegated to Division 1 at season’s end, with South Croydon faced with Blackburn (seventh), Doncaster (12th) and Norwood (eighth) in the final three weeks.

The Bulldogs hold almost seven per cent advantage on Park Orchards, which closes out the home-and-away campaign with Vermont (first), Balwyn (third) and Berwick (ninth).

South Croydon has competed in the Eastern league’s top-flight since 2010 – winning a premiership in 2017.

It will miss the finals for the first time since 2016 – but Franken said there’s plenty to play for as the club aims to save itself from the dreaded drop.

“We’re really focused for the next three weeks and the guys are very confident that we’re going to account ourselves well for the next three games,” he said.

“We demonstrated on the weekend that every game, every team we play, we’ve got the capability to compete so we’ll be going into each game as every team does, with the view to try and win the game.

“They’re all 50-50 games.”

Originally published as EFNL Premier Division: South Croydon beaten on the siren as interim coach addresses relegation

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