A week of soul searching was just the tonic for Altona to begin its form reversal in the Hockey Victoria men’s premier league.
The Seagulls overcame a winless month with a 5-0 drubbing of Yarra Valley at Altona’s hockey ground on Saturday.
After a draw and two losses in July, the Seagulls needed to find a way to re-capture their early season form that still has them in contention for a top-four finish and a finals double chance.
“We had a big chat on Tuesday night and re-evaluated our goals,” Seagulls vice-captain Steve Campbell said.
“We really wanted to play our style of hockey, wanted to control the game again because we kind of moved away from that and more thinking about what the opposition is going to do.
“There was a real focus on us and not the opposition this week.”
Altona produced its most exciting hockey in a while. Andrew Scanlon kick-started the rout with the game’s opening goal.
Scanlon, the equal top scorer in the competition with 17 goals, finished with two for the game.
Josh Horton, Josh Pace and Jyah Johnson also got in on the scoring act.
On a windy day and with an opponent more than willing to stack the defence, Altona’s front line had to work hard to create chances.
In the absence of forward Pat Phillips, it was up to Johnson and Harrison Gill to give the Yarra Valley defence the run around.
“When they flood their defence, you’ve got to try and run hard to open up pockets for other people,” Campbell said.
“Their work rate up front and ability to stretch Yarra’s defence was outstanding.”
There was no more important player on the field for Altona than captain Harry Dolenc.
Dolenc’s stick work in tight confines was a sight to behold for the home supporters.
“His ability to receive the ball in tight spaces and get it to the open side of the pitch really helped,” Campbell said.
Campbell confirmed Altona’s desire for a top four-finish, where the reward is a double chance.
The Seagulls are in fifth spot and need to make every game a winner in the remaining five rounds, starting with a home game against sixth-placed Southern United on Saturday.
“We set our goal on top-four and we’ve still got that goal,” Campbell said.
“We have to win this one and a few others against some of the top sides to have a chance for that.
“We think it’s reachable, but this game is huge because of where we sit.”
Meanwhile, Footscray was riding a wave of confidence going into its clash with Mentone and it showed in a 2-0 win at Mentone Grammar School.
At the start of June, the Bulldogs were fourth last and in the relegation conversation, but now they are just one point out of the top eight.
In women’s premier league, Altona played out an entertaining 3-3 draw with Yarra Valley at Altona. Stephanie Young, Jessica Brennan and Phoebe Rothfield were the scorers.
Footscray consolidated its place in the top eight with a 1-1 draw away to Mentone. Lily Brazel, a Victorian Institute of Sport athlete, scored the equaliser for the Bulldogs.