There is no such thing as a dead rubber for Sydenham Park.

The Reds showed their motivation has  not waned during a 4-1 walloping of Yarraville Glory in the Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 1 at McIvor Reserve on Saturday.

Despite falling out of the promotion race and having avoided relegation a long time ago, Reds coach John Markovski expects his players to remain switched on until the final day of the season.

“These games are very important,” he said.

“We want to win every game to finish as high as we can and the players are playing for their positions [next season].”

Markovski means business.

He wants to have the Reds in a position to challenge for the title this time next season and that starts with building a winning culture here and now.

Markovski said the Reds can gain significant momentum in the final month of the season with the team likely to be back in pre-season training just six weeks after the last game of this season.

“Hopefully they’ll be able to continue on
the momentum in pre-season because
they’re only going to have a month and a half off and they’ll be back into pre-season,” Markovski said.

Sydenham Park had a narrow one-goal lead at half-time against Yarraville. To that point, the Reds had enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but were a bit blunt going forward.

That all changed in the second half when Markovski brought on Koce Delev, Zoran Petrevski and Tou-Yeng Yang, and all three had a profound impact on the game.

Jordan Ross was the Reds’ most consistent in the midfield.

“I think in the first half we played OK, but in the second half we absolutely destroyed them all over the park,” Markovski said.

“That was in defence, midfield and up front – it was all over the park.”

Sydenham Park will host relegation-threatened Westgate at Keilor Lodge Reserve on Saturday.

There is a massive 15 points between the two clubs in the standings, but Markovski said that will count for little when the whistle is blown at 3pm.

“It’s not going to be an easy game,” he said.

“They’re fighting to stave off relegation, so it’s going to be difficult.”

Elsewhere in state league 1, North Sunshine Eagles’ slim hopes of promotion were dashed in a 3-0 road loss to Preston Lions.

Keilor Park won 1-0 over Banyule City after a Reuben Agyei Danso winner.

Westgate gained a valuable point in a 1-1 draw with Essendon Royals, while Western Suburbs had a disappointing 1-1 draw with bottom side Altona East Phoenix.

Meanwhile, the NPL will return this weekend after the bulk of the teams had last weekend off for a catch-up round.

Green Gully will host Hume City at Green Gully Reserve on Saturday evening with both teams still battling it out for a spot in the finals, while promotion-relegation playoff bound Melbourne Knights travels to North Geelong on Saturday and St Albans Saints host Port Melbourne Sharks at Churchill Reserve on Sunday.