As the National Premier League Two season rolls into its second half, the Goulburn Valley Suns have a crucial stretch of games coming that could breathe new life into the campaign.
Hopes of a push up the table — and potentially into promotion contention — are on life support with inconsistency haunting the side during the campaign.
With 16 of 28 games played, the Suns remain fifth on the eastern division table, critically 12 points back from second position and the promotion opportunity it brings.
But with a stretch of six games against teams ranked below it, including the bottom two sides in each division, it is too soon to give up hope just yet.
Suns coach Craig Carley agreed the next period of the season could be anything.
‘‘We’re just aiming to finish as high as we can and to win as many games as possible,’’ he said.
‘‘Our next six games can still shape our season though, we still want to finish right up there.’’
The next stretch brings games against Sunshine (10th, western division), Langwarrin (seventh, east), Whittlesea (ninth, west), Eastern Lions (sixth, east), Nunawading (10th, east) and Box Hill (ninth, east) — with serious make-or-break potential.
But given the Suns’ inability to string good form together and defensive woes, it is too simple to suggest winnable fixtures will certainly translate to points.
Reflecting on the season, Carley felt it already resembled one of missed opportunities.
‘‘I feel we should have eight to 10 points extra, if I’m honest,’’ he said.
‘‘But in saying that, it was always going to be a difficult season with new backroom staff and plenty of new players.
‘‘For replacing lots of people and getting the new ones in there, I feel we are doing okay.’’
When the coach refers to points being left on the table, nothing sticks out more than the two-week stretch of games against Box Hill United and Murray United.
Against both lowly-ranked teams, the Suns slumped to disappointing home losses in contests where three points were the minimum expectation.
Moving forward, Carley said his side needed to start putting its best foot forward with regularity.
‘‘We need to get back to doing what we do best and playing as a team and working for each other,’’ he said.
‘‘If we can do that we will be competitive, but if we don’t, we’ll get turned over like we did against Dandenong.
‘‘It’s a funny old league where anyone can beat anyone. We just need to start giving a good account of ourselves.’’