AWFA mid-season review | Every team rated in wide open title race

HEAD TO HEAD: Myrtleford and Melrose are in the thick of the league title battle with Wangaratta in what is shaping as one of the most open AWFA senior men's seasons in recent years.
HEAD TO HEAD: Myrtleford and Melrose are in the thick of the league title battle with Wangaratta in what is shaping as one of the most open AWFA senior men's seasons in recent years.

Three sides share the league lead at the midway mark of a fascinating AWFA senior men’s season.

The Border Mail’s Beau Greenway and AWFA News assess each club’s start as we head into business end.

Myrtleford

Rating: 9/10

Win/draw/loss: 9-0-2

Next three: Bye, Wodonga Diamonds, Twin City.

Season high: Going 1-0 down after 25 minutes against United before netting the next seven goals.

Season low: Losing to Boomers 1-0 after dominating for 90 minutes.

Star Player fancies: Jesse Stephens, Jake Miles.

Injury list: Raul Pahina, Tom Youngs, Jayden Vescio, Troy Pawlik, Will Keenan.

In a nutshell: The Savoys are in much the same position as last year at the halfway point. Having Sam Morgan, Connor Caponecchia and Daniel Kioses join the squad in recent weeks will set the defending league and cup champions up well for the run home.

Melrose

Rating: 9/10

Win/draw/loss: 9-0-2

Next three: Albury United, Twin City, Bye.

Season high: Beating Wangaratta 1-0 to take top spot in the league.

Season low: A 3-2 loss to Albury United with Trent Rixon missing a penalty.

Star Player fancies: Adam Waters, Josh O’Brien.

Injury list: Evan Rawluk, Alistair Brady.

In a nutshell: Melrose couldn’t have asked for a better start. It’s now up to them with 11 games to go to test how good they really are. Melrose has only beaten one top-four team to date, so the challenge comes first week back against Albury United to make it two.

Wangaratta

Rating: 9/10

Win/draw/loss: 9-0-2

Next three: Albury City, Albury United, Wodonga Diamonds. 

Season high: Sitting equal top at the midway point thanks to a 2-1 win against rivals Myrtleford.

Season low: A poor performance against Boomers to cost the side top spot. 

Star Player fancies: Riley Hamilton, Stoycho Ivanov.

Injury list: Ivo Madiera, Ori Kara, Raff Molinaro, Stuart Vance, Joel van der Leeuw.

In a nutshell: The Devils should be very happy with the first half of the season. The side has been hard hit in the attacking third through injury and the departure of key players such as Adam Burchell. They will slowly get men back over the next few weeks. However, a number of younger players have thrived on more opportunities at senior level.

Albury United

Rating: 7.5/10

Win/draw/loss: 7-1-3

Next three: Melrose, Wangaratta, Albury Hotspurs.

Season high: Beating Melrose 3-2 in Trent Rixon’s return home in round two.

Season low: Conceding seven goals in 48 minutes against Myrtleford.

Star Player fancies: Caleb Martin, Aidan Rees.

Injury list: Nil.

In a nutshell: After losing more than half of last year’s starting 11 during the off-season, Scott Kidd has got the best out of a developing list in 2018. The Greens sit fourth at the midway point, only five points behind the leading teams, and will be hoping to consolidate it in the second half.

Boomers

Rating: 7.5/10

Win/draw/loss: 7-0-4

Next three: Wodonga Diamonds, Albury City, St Pats.

Season high: Gutsy wins against competition favourites Wangaratta and Myrtleford in the space of three weeks.

Season low: A 3-0 loss away to Twin City following an excellent performance against Wangaratta.

Star Player fancies: Noah Spiteri, Dustin Patten.

Injury list: Andrew Grove.

In a nutshell: Victories against Myrtleford and Wangaratta prove they can beat the best, but doing it consistently is the biggest challenge. Grove is set to return after the break from a torn quad, while Nathan Scott’s availability will increase in the second half of the season.

Albury City

Rating: 5/10

Win/draw/loss: 5-1-5

Next three: Wangaratta, Boomers, Cobram.

Season high: An 8-0 victory against St Pats, including four goals from Michael Pertzel.

Season low: A 4-0 defeat at the hands of Melrose in round six. City had no answer for Trent Rixon.

Star Player fancies: David Samiec, Thorne Maw.

Injury list: Hayden Johnson, Patrick Brown.

In a nutshell: City’s aspirations of being a top-four outfit have been tested so far. Close losses to Myrtleford, Wangaratta and Boomers frustrated them early, but some decent form in the lead-up to the break has moved them within reach.

Twin City

Rating: 6.5/10

Win/draw/loss: 5-1-5

Next three: Albury Hotspurs, Melrose, Myrtleford.

Season high: Beating Boomers 3-0 after they had beaten the undefeated Wangaratta a week earlier.

Season low: Giving up a 1-0 lead to lose 5-1 against Melrose in round four.

Star Player fancies: Tyler Curran, Callum Speirs.

Injury list: Cody Walsh, Aaron Williams, Shaun Wilhelm.

In a nutshell: Discipline and fitness were two key areas new coach Lee Botting wanted to address and the message has been getting across. The Wanderers have been able to keep their best players on the park for the majority of the season and have been competitive as a result. 

Cobram

Rating: 6/10

Win/draw/loss: 5-0-6

Next three: St Pats, Albury City, Twin City.

Season high: Beating Boomers 4-0 away from home.

Season low: Giving up a 2-0 lead at home against Albury City to lose 4-2.

Star Player fancies: Zac McLeod, Shaun Willis.

Injury list: Justin Smith, Ray Diramacca, Lachlan Osborne, Aaron Feldtmann, Glenn Feldtmann.

In a nutshell: It was always going to be a tough season with four key players leaving from the cup final side. Injuries struck in the pre-season and into the first few weeks of the campaign, forcing Cobram to manage its squad ever since.

Albury Hotspurs

Rating: 5.5/10

Win/draw/loss: 4-1-6

Next three: Twin City, St Pats, Albury United.

Season high: Strong performances against two of the competition leaders in Wangaratta and Melrose.

Season low: A 9-0 loss to Myrtleford the week before the mid-season break.

Star Player fancies: Jerome Dunphy, Matt Townsend.

Injury list: Jon Cochrane, Dylan Nabb, Lewis Parrett.

In a nutshell: After a promising start, winning three of their first four games, Albury Hotspurs limped into the mid-season break. Missing at least four players from the side in the final weeks before the bye was far from ideal and shows they still lack some depth when injuries and unavailabilities strike.

Wodonga Diamonds

Rating: 4.5/10

Win/draw/loss: 2-1-8

Next three: Boomers, Myrtleford, Wangaratta. 

Season high: First win of the season against St Pats the week before the break.

Season low: Eight-week ban for Nikola Bukvic.

Star Player fancies: Mason Nhansana, Dylan Gavel.

Injury list: Jarrod Herzina.

In a nutshell: The hard work starts now for Diamonds having lost senior coach James Dexter in the final week before the mid-season break.

St Pats

Rating: 3/10

Win/draw/loss: 1-1-9

Next three: Cobram, Albury Hotspurs, Boomers

Season high: A draw in round one against Albury United and a competitive 4-2 loss against league leaders Myrtleford.

Season low: Heavy defeats at the hands of Wangaratta, Twin City, Albury City and Melrose.

Star Player fancies: Ben White, Andrew Stevens.

Injury list: Scott Mildren, Tom Wiltshire, Patrick Hillier, Oscar Bell.

In a nutshell: St Pats have unearthed some young talent at senior level, particularly Ben White, but are still a long way off the pace. A sizeable injury list hasn’t helped their cause, but the side will continue to battle for its first win throughout the second half of the season.