By Justin Flynn
A Luke Mann goal after the siren kept Bell Post Hill’s top three hopes alive and handed Inverleigh just its second Geelong District Football League defeat of the season.
Mann’s goal, from a mark about 35 metres out, sailed through and set up an intriguing battle for a double chance come finals time.
The Panthers kept in touch with third-placed Bannockburn with only percentage separating the two sides with two games remaining.
Bannockburn plays sixth placed Thomson and ninth placed North Geelong while the Panthers will start strong favourites against Corio this week before a tough one against Geelong West.
However, Bell Post Hill would fancy its chances against anyone at the moment, knocking off second place East Geelong and top side Inverleigh in consecutive weeks.
Bell Post Hill assistant coach Andrew Atchison said the win against Inverleigh had given the group a lot of self belief.
“They (Inverleigh) have been the yardstick for the last two years,” he said.
“We set ourselves for a big game. We knew playing a side like Inverleigh it would be a finals like atmosphere.
“It really gave them that self belief. We’ve always drummed into our playing list that it doesn’t matter who you are playing against, you have to be switched on.”
Inverleigh led by 21 points at quarter time and by four at half time. Bell Post Hill went into the last quarter with a two-point lead before Mann iced the game with the final kick.
“As soon as it left his boot it never looked like missing,” Atchison said.
“He’s one of the best set shots at the club.”
The Panthers were well served by onballer Dylan Witney.
“He brings that hardness around stoppages,” Atchison said.
“He has that work ethic out on the football field and he drags everyone along with him. He’s a bit of a barometer for us.”
Will Ford took his season’s goal tally to 76 with a further haul of four while midfielder Jordan Schrader-Sabell was prolific and the versatile Tim Barton has now strung some matches together after a knee injury caused him to miss games earlier in the year.
North Geelong defeated a plucky Anakie by 47 points with Mitch Habib best afield.
East Geelong dealt Thomson’s finals hopes a severe blow with a 38-point win with Tim McLennan again among the best.
Bannockburn continued on its merry way with a 74-point win against Winchelsea. Jai Robinson was instrumental and Kieran Fulton booted four goals.
An inaccurate Geelong West Giants kept Werribee Centrals to just two goals in a 79-point triumph. The Giants scored 12.22 with Blake Dye kicking four for the victors.
Belmont Lions thrashed Corio by 119 points with Brent Jacques booting 11 goals and coach Nathan Bisset five.