The Bendigo Amateur Soccer League championship race is officially down to two.
Title favourite Eaglehawk and second-placed Shepparton South scored crucial wins on Sunday to clear out from the chasing pack.
Eaglehawk’s 5-0 win over Shepparton took the Hawks to 42 points from 16 games. Shepparton South is one point behind after it scored a hard-fought 1-0 win over Shepparton United. Shepparton South has played one more game than Eaglehawk.
Epsom, Shepparton United and Strathdale are a further seven points back after they failed to pick up three points at the weekend.
Their focus is now on finishing inside the top four and earning a finals berth.
Eaglehawk proved too good for Shepparton in a fiery encounter at Truscott Reserve.
Six yellow cards were distributed in the space of 20 minutes before both teams settled down in the second half.
Eaglehawk opened the scoring via a Greg Thomas penalty in the 10th minute. Brent Hamblin doubled the lead with a header from a set piece in the 31st minute.
The highlight of the second half was a stunning long range goal from Hawks’ midfielder Riley Hayton.
A second half goal from Sean Grant was enough for Shepparton South to defeat Shepparton United in the Shepparton derby.
Grant has scored nine goals in his past five games.
If Strathdale misses out on the BASL finals the Blues will look back on rounds 18 and 19 with frustration.
After dropping two points in a 2-2 draw with Shepparton in round 18, the Blues had to settle for a 2-2 draw against Epsom on Saturday.
The Blues looked set to grab all three points when they opened a 2-0 lead over Epsom on the back of an own goal and a penalty from Lonain Burnett.
Not for the first time this season the Scorpions bounced back in the second half.
A Harley Richardson penalty in the 73rd minute and a Mitch Langenbacher goal six minutes later levelled the scores and earned Epsom a vital point.
Thanks to its superior goal difference the Scorpions moved to third ahead of Shepparton United and Strathdale.
Epsom’s run home is Eaglehawk (h), Colts United (a) and Shepparton (h). Shepparton United has the bye, Golden City (a) and Spring Gully (h). Strathdale plays Tatura (a), Shepparton South (a) and the bye.
Spring Gully skipper Sam Walker scored four goals to lead his side to an emphatic 9-2 win over bottom side Colts United.
In the final game of the round, Tatura trounced Moama-Echuca 16-0.