A team with no full-forward, recognised ruckman or key defender is on the verge of sealing the unlikeliest of top three finishes.
Wodonga Raiders have revolutionised their game, scoring a riveting 11.7 (73) to 10.9 (69) win over fellow finals contenders, Yarrawonga.
Pigeons’ star Mark Whiley had a kick from 40 metres, on a 45-degree angle, to seal the win with just seconds left.
“No, terrible kick, kicked on the inside, not good enough man, I should be able to nail them,” Whiley said.
The Pigeons wouldn’t have been in that position though but for a blistering Whiley onslaught in the frenetic final term.
The home team grabbed the lead for the first time since the 12-minute mark of the second quarter when Whiley landed a superb snap with 11 minutes left.
He was taking the match away from the visitors, until the dangerous Jake Uslar kicked a running goal two minutes later and then lightweight Ethan Boxall caught Pigeons’ powerhouse Tyler Bonat in possession and nailed the kick.
But, with just over two minutes left, Brandon Symes reduced the deficit to five points with his fourth.
The final stages were frenetic as the ball was spent in Raiders’ defence, but they launched themselves like missiles in an attempt to smother the ball.
However, Whiley was taken high with 26 seconds left, but his kick drifted across for a rushed behind.
“He’d done a lot of work, so it didn’t surprise me his legs were tired,” Pigeons’ co-coach Chris Kennedy said.
Raiders are now a win clear of Yarrawonga and Lavington with only two games left.
It’s incredible as they lost four of their first eight games by eight goals or more and are reinventing the wheel with their manufactured line-up.
“We don’t have a huge spine through the middle,” delighted coach Daryn Cresswell said.
Raiders have now won seven of their last eight games, conceding just 59 points per game.
Red-hot favourites Albury have averaged 55.
“We’ve just changed up our method behind the footy and what we’re doing away from the footy, in front and back.” Cresswell said.
“We needed to do that because we were getting scored heavily against.”
Raiders averaged 82 points against in the first eight games.
Jydon Neagle was outstanding and Brad St John dynamic until a massive collision with Jess Koopman slowed his impact in a massive win for Mark Doolan’s 200th.
Symes and Whiley were tremendous.