Murray United is unbeaten in its last three games and will be desperate to make it four when it faces NPL 2 East leaders Dandenong City away from home on Saturday.
Dandenong sits five points clear of Moreland City in its bid for promotion to the NPL, but Murray coach Elliot Jones is confident his side can continue its recent form against the top sides.
“As far as I’m concerned, Moreland City and Dandy are the two strongest sides we’ve faced this year,” Jones said.
“It’s a real test for us against Dandy, they’re top of the ladder for a reason, they’re a very strong side with quality all over the park.
“They play to a really strong system and back themselves in and more times than not they get the job done.
“They move the ball well and they like to go wide and deliver the ball from those wide areas.
“Being aware of it is one thing, being able to nullify them and beat them is another.
“Hopefully our best is good enough to cause a bit of a boil over, but they’ve probably got three or four of the best players in the comp in their side.”
Former Archie Thompson will be rested for a fourth straight week with a knee complaint, but Jones is hopeful he will make an impact in the final seven games.
“From next week on, he should be good to go for the rest of year,” Jones added.
“He would have been a great guy to use off the bench this weekend, but we’ve played well the last few weeks without him.
“Having Archie for the last seven or eight rounds consistently is more important than bringing him in for one game and potentially risking him again.”
Sean Pye is a key inclusion after sitting out last week with hamstring soreness, but goalkeeper Abdulkerim Koc won’t be risked after being substituted early with a quad strain.
Matt Mildren has been named to start in goals.
“He (Pye) trained really well last (Thursday) night and is a really important player for us,” Jones said.
“They’re really strong out wide, so we think both Pyesy and Melkie (Woldemichael) are going to be really important for us.
“Those guys are very good one-on-one defenders, so we think if we can give them a bit of support through the afternoon, we feel like we’re quite strong in those areas too.
“As long as we can stay focused and stay in the moment throughout the day, I think we can really frustrate them with what we’ve got.
“We know that we always trouble teams going forward, for us it’s about bringing that defensive effort and pressure.
“Hopefully we can hold them out and catch them back the other way.”
Kick-off is 3pm at Frank Holohan Soccer Complex.
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