BAD kicking is bad football. That was the message from Ferntree Gully coach Bernie Ryan to his players following their 58-point loss to South Belgrave in the Eastern Football League division 4 on Saturday.
The Eagles kicked 7.18, including at least eight missed shots within 30 metres of goal.
Ryan said his young side had to find a way to get past its poor conversion rate, which had already cost them in several matches this season.
"In the first 15 minutes of the game we were all over them," he said. "We could have gone five goals up, instead we kicked two goals, three behinds. On wet days, those three goals can mean six goals and when we missed, the guys got disheartened."
The Eagles also let their emotions get the better of them midway through the second term when they conceded three goals in just minutes after a South Belgrave player converted a free kick and was then felled and given a second shot at goal which he also kicked.
A third goal from the Saints just minutes later gave the side an advantage it would keep. "We didn't recover from that," Ryan said.
With a small, young running side, Ryan has urged his charges to run at every opportunity and avoid physical, contested battles, especially when facing experienced sides like the Saints and ladder-leader The Basin.
"We are a really small side, a young side with a good future," Ryan said. "But it will take some time. We don't have the experience South Belgrave has, we don't have the bigger bodies and we have struggled to match up with those sides.
"We play our best footy when we get the ball in the space; we can push sides to the limit if we do that."
With fourth-placed Silvan facing an easy run home, Ryan said only an upset loss for the Cats would give his side the chance to keep third place and a double chance in the finals.
"Our goal is to play finals," he said. "Whether we play one week or three weeks it doesn't matter. If we are good enough we will make it.
"The pressure will be on The Basin and South Belgrave in the finals. If we get there anything could happen."
EFL division 4 ladde: The Basin 52 points, 193.78 per cent; South Belgrave 52, 193.78; Ferntree Gully 32, 115.85; Silvan 32, 114.10; Nunawading 32, 107.62; Forest Hill 28, 90.81; Eastern Lions 24, 100.58; Kilsyth 16, 76.19; Park Orchards 16, 76.93; Canterbury 8, 62.52; Surrey Park 0, 31.22.