Albury Hotspurs will look to claim its first major scalp of the 2021 AWFA season when it takes on reigning champions Wangaratta at Aloysius Park on Sunday.
Narrow defeats against Albury United (3-2) and Myrtleford (3-2) and a 3-3 draw away to Albury City in the first six rounds of the season have shown Spurs can match it with the league's top sides, but on paper it only reads as one point.
Wangaratta hasn't played since May 23 as it was forced to postpone its fixture against Twin City when the competition restarted after the Victorian lockdown on June 6, which led into the Queen's Birthday general bye.
But Spurs co-captain Brandon Vescio doesn't expect Wangaratta to be too unsettled by the long layoff.
"We seem to pick up our game a bit when we play the top sides, so we're looking to try contest against them and get a result," Vescio said.
"Their attack is always strong and they're very fast in the front end of the field, so it's going to be a tough day for us in defence.
"We've been working on things to try and close out games like that and hold onto leads, so hopefully in the future that doesn't happen again."
Vescio has been happy with the progress the side has made this season and said it has been enjoyable going into games knowing they have been more competitive against the benchmark teams of the league.
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However, just six points separate Spurs in sixth and St Pats in ninth, so there's little margin for error if they want to play a part in this year's cup finals.
"It's getting tight in the middle of the table, so we're hoping to come out on top of that area," Vescio said.
"Hopefully we can contest some matches with the top teams and try get some results there.
"It's very promising and hopefully we can carry that form into finals."
Kristian Shiphard is set to return from injury for the clash with the Devils, but Kristian Hopwood has to serve a one-week suspension after he received two yellow cards in Spurs' 1-0 win against Wodonga Diamonds last start.
Also this weekend, Albury City plays host to Cobram, Melrose takes on Myrtleford, Albury United will be out to retain top spot at home to Twin City, while Boomers can stay in the top four with victory over Wodonga Diamonds.
In the senior women's league, Albury Hotspurs take on Wangaratta at Aloysius Park, while St Pats will look to bounce back from an 11-1 thumping from Albury United against Boomers at Glen Park.
The Greens are runaway competition leaders by 12 points and have the bye.
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