By Tyler Lewis
“It’s frustrating for the coaches, but for the players and everyone, we worked pretty hard and didn’t capitalise on our work.”
Casey Demons coach Sam Radford knows all too well just how vital Sunday’s match at Marvel Stadium was. In reality, it was an eight-point game with what looms as a tricky month ahead.
Despite having the strangle on Footscray for lengthy periods of the match, the Demons were unable to capitalise and in turn allowed the Dogs to launch several end-to-end goals.
Right from the opening bounce it was evident that no love had been lost between the two sides that went head to head for the 2016 premiership.
For the best part of seven minutes the ball had lived in the Casey front half, but that wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard. And as they did all day, the Bulldogs utilised the dry conditions under the roof to slingshot from the unpolished Demons’ entries.
Footscray 22-year-old Bailey Dale proved a real handful in the early stages of the match, kicking the opening 2.1 for the Dogs against the flow of the Demons’ ascendancy at the contest.
With only moments left in the opening term the Demons were on the ropes, trailing by 23-points and, without a goal, they were in dire need of a steadier.
Oskar Baker charged back with the flight of the ball, colliding with Lachie Young to take a spine-tingling mark and, more importantly, bounce back up to convert the Demons’ opening major for the afternoon.
Rueben Williams and Lin Jong made it a hard trek for the Demons with the opening majors of the second term to push the lead out to five goals.
With he and his team mates finding themselves up against it once more, 2018 Casey best and fairest winner Corey Wagner was the man on this occasion to lift the Demons. Not only did he have a physical impact at the stoppages, but he also slotted a tremendous running goal which was shortly followed by captain Mitch White converting his set shot.
After an arm wrestle of a second term, neither side had made inroads from the quarter-time scoreline.
From the very first stoppage of the second half, Wagner emerged and found the leading Jay Kennedy-Harris.
Kennedy-Harris, who had been among the Demons’ best all day, couldn’t convert the set shot to bring the margin down to 11 points and the Dogs went coast to coast to make it a two goal turn around in the matter of 30 seconds.
But Corey Wagner again lifted his side late in the term with a snap around his body to bring the margin back to 21 points heading into the final break.
Anthony Scott launched a booming left foot punt from beyond the arc to make it extremely difficult for the Demons with the margin out to 27 points.
Regardless of the deficit, Casey continued to attack the Bulldogs and weren’t willing to roll over.
With 23 minutes gone in the final term, Toby Bedford lit up the contest – crumbing the pack, spinning from one tackle and sidestepping another to bring the Demons within 13 points before his teammate James Jordan kicked another within 90 seconds.
Unfortunately for the Demons they left their run too late to snatch the four points, ultimately making the next four matches of football decisive in the context of September action.
With the last three majors of the match inside 13 minutes of football, Casey was storming home. Although disappointed with the result, Sam Radford was pleased with his side’s never give up attitude.
“We were certainly coming home hard,” he said.
“The boys never gave up which is a really good trait of the team, we have fought and scrapped all year to be honest but we haven’t had the polish at times to hurt teams.
“The Bulldogs did enough and deserved to win, but I was really happy with the resilience shown by the guys and how we kept just coming back at them.”
Casey seemed to be done and dusted late in the term before a magical goal straight from the small forward textbook by Toby Bedford changed the gears of his side to go again, and Radford says Bedford’s football has been gradually improving each week.
“Toby was one of those guys that took a couple weeks to find their feet at senior level,” he said.
“He is working hard and is going in the right direction.
“We feel like he is improving and developing every week, he has been really consistent with his pressure and his drop of the ball all season.”
The Demons face a crunch home clash this Saturday against Geelong at Casey Fields, beginning at 2.10pm.
FOOTSCRAY 4.2 7.4 11.6 12.8 (80)
CASEY DEMONS 1.3 4.5 7.9 10.13 (73)
GOALS: R. William 3, A. Scott 2, B. Dale 2, M. Wallis 2, L. Jong 2, W. Hayes
BEST: L. Jong, D. Morris, W. Hayes, F. Roberts, C. Porter, R. William
GOALS: A. Bradtke 2, C. Wagner 2, M. White, L. Wale-Buxton, M. Lefau, T. Bedford, J. Jordon, O. Baker
BEST: C. Wagner, J. Hutchins, J. Kennedy-Harris, J. Munro, C. Maynard, O. Baker