PORT Melbourne clung to a valuable place in the top two of the VFL with a nail-biting three-point win over Box Hill on Saturday.
The parochial crowd at North Port Oval held its collective breath in the final minute as the Borough fought to hold the slender lead.
But it should never have been like that, as Port kicked five goals to one in the first quarter but were lethargic in the second and third as the Hawks hit back.
The Hawks turned the game on its head with five goals to one in that period and went into three-quarter time with a three-point lead.
That led to an epic spray from furious Port coach Gary Ayres.
Playing with greater vigour in the final term, the Borough started to get on top in the middle through the usual suspects – Shane Valenti, John Baird and Toby Pinwill – and hit the front at the 20-minute mark.
By 25 minutes the Hawks needed three goals to win and almost did it but were beaten by the siren.
Ayres said his team did just enough to get over the line despite not being at their best.
“At three-quarter time there was well and truly a crossroad for our boys,” he said. “I didn’t care how we did it. We just needed to get ourselves over the line and we were good enough in the end.
“Our football had no flow. It was very stop-start, the sort of footy played in an under-12 or under-15 game. In the second, third and half of the last quarter we let them initiate far too much and we were reactive.”
Ayres also said while he was pleased with the form of Valenti, Baird, Pinwill and Mitch Woffindin, his side lacked contributions in some areas.
“We’re not getting enough from some of our players,” he said. “We know if we don’t have contributions from a big number then we come back to the field pretty quickly.”
Port’s next match is against Bendigo at North Port Oval on Saturday.
PORT MELBOURNE 11.8 (74)
Goals: D. Galea 3, M. Woffindin 2, C. Cain, J. Purcell, S. Valenti, M. Pitt, J. Scipione, J. Baird. Best: J. Baird, S. Valenti, S. Pleming, T. Allan, M. Woffindin, D. Galea.
BOX HILL 10.11 (71)
Goals: D. Pratt 3, A. Frank 2, T. Schneider, D. Wanganeen, S. Savage , M. Jones, B. McCauley. Best: X. Murphy, T. Murphy, K. Cheney, T. Schneider, M. Thompson, B. Muston.