BENDIGO City has made its Men's State League 5 West rivals sit up and take notice after producing the finest win in the club's history.
Aiming to bounce back after a 'disappointing' draw the previous weekend against Ballarat, City toppled league leaders Barwon 7-0 in their Saturday night clash at Epsom Huntly Recreation Reserve.
A crushing win was against the odds, with City minus recently departed defensive midfielder Will Keating and prolific striker Luke Burns, who was attending a wedding.
The state league newcomers were also without their playing coach Greg Thomas for much of the second half after he had to be stretchered off with a sprained knee.
Thomas will undergo scans in Melbourne on Tuesday, but was at least up and walking in the days after Saturday night's watershed victory.
"It was just one of those nights when everything just seemed to come together," an elated Thomas said.
"The first five or 10 minutes, both sides were a little bit cagey, just trying to work each other out, but we quickly got on top.
"When we got the first (goal), it just rolled on from there and we were totally dominant.
"You never expect to be 5-0 up at half time, especially against a real quality side, but it seemed like every chance we got went into the back of the net.
"We played some really top football and really adjusted to the way they were playing. They were playing a very high line and leaving plenty of space behind our wingers and we were able to exploit that.
"The guys really stuck to the game plan and adjusted through the game. It was a brilliant performance from everyone."
The charge was led by acting skipper Daniel Purdy and Lewis Merriman, who each scored twice, with Purdy the first City player to strike in the 22nd minute before he added the third in the 35th minute.
Sean Boxshall (25th minute), who came into the side to replace the absent Burns, Sam Farr (75th) and Ruben White (80th) all scored singles to complete the rout.
It was the third time in City's last three games that Farr had contributed to the scoresheet.
At the other end of the pitch, chances at goal were few and far between for Barwon, which arrived in Bendigo with an unblemished 5-0 record.
Thomas declared the win as 'probably the best' in the club's history.
While it has inevitably raised the bar in terms of expectations, he hoped it would be a defining moment in the team's season.
"It was a magic day for us, had we lost that we would have fallen seven points behind Barwon, but now we are within one point of top spot," Thomas said.
"We're pretty confident it was the best win in the club's history at senior level - that's the feeling around the club, which I tend to agree with.
"It was a big step forward for Bendigo City, beating a team at the top of the ladder.
"Being within one point of the top is just massive for the club."
Meanwhile, Bendigo City's reserves retained top spot, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Barwon.
Joshua Brown put City ahead with a goal in the 57th minute before Barwon equalised in the 72nd minute.
City's 5-0-1 record gives them a one-point advantage at the top of the ladder over Balmoral and Melton Phoenix both on 14 points.
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