BENDIGO City's bid for a top-three finish in its first season in the Victorian Men's State League comes full circle against Maidstone United on Saturday.
Fielding a senior team for the first time since 2017, Bendigo City launched its campaign with a stirring, but tough 1-0 win over Maidstone United at Strathfieldsaye on March 19.
It was the dawning of a bright new era for the club and the catalyst for plenty of optimism and excitement.
While fortunes since that day have been mixed and the hopes of an early promotion from the MSL 5 West have tapered, City finds itself with plenty to play for as it heads to Maidstone for the return bout.
Starting the second round of matches 14 points off top spot, but only five points behind third and fourth-placed Balmoral and Deakin University, playing coach Greg Thomas said his squad was committed to finishing the season as strongly as possible.
"If we can't win the league, so be it, but we are not just going to roll over and go through the motions in the second half of the year," he said.
"We want to finish as high as we can and make it hard for some other teams."
Thomas is expecting a tough battle against Maidstone United, which did well to restrict Bendigo City to just one goal and few other chances in their round one battle.
"Their results have been a bit up and down, but for us, it's another away game and we've only won the one away game," he said.
"The first game of the second round with 11 games to go, there's still plenty of points to play for.
"We just need to get on a good run now and turn the corner.
"We have been saying it for a few weeks now, but I'm pretty confident things will turn. Everyone has a lapse through the year and I'm pretty sure we can turn things around."
Maidstone United is coming off a 5-2 loss to top side Barwon, while Bendigo City did brilliantly to share the points against Balmoral, which has conceded only one loss at home since 2018.
1. Barwon 10-1 (30 points)
2. Melton Phoenix 9-1-1 (28)
3. Balmoral 6-2-3 (21)
4. Deakin University 7-4 (21)
5. Bendigo City 4-3-4 (16)
6. West Point 5-4-1 (16)
7. Ballarat 4-4-3 (15)
8. Maidstone United 4-7 (12)
9. Lara United 3-5-2 (11)
10. Maribyrnong Greens 2-7-2 (8)
11. Wyndham City 1-8-2 (5)
12. Surfside Waves 1-10 (3)
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