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A Saving Snap

A Jason Ashby goal with just seconds remaining on the clock has handed Essendon a thrilling three point win over Box Hill at Windy Hill on Saturday.

Ashby played a key part in the tense final term across half back, but floated forward to receive a handball from Shaun Edwards and off one step, hand the Bombers a vital victory.

The goal set the Windy Hill faithful alight, with the siren sounding at the following centre stoppage with the Bombers leading 15.5 (95) to Box Hill’s 13.14 (92).

Edwards booted two final quarter goals to give the Bombers the advantage, before the Hawks reclaimed the lead in controversial circumstances with Bomber players insisting to umpires that the ball had ricocheted off the post.

The scene was set for a hero and up stepped Ashby for his first goal of the season, and what he described as the best of his career.

The win moves the eighth placed Bombers two games clear of the ninth placed Hawks with five matches to come before finals action.

In perfect conditions, the Bombers couldn’t have asked for a better start with the first goal through Jacks Langford. But the Hawks looked the better of the two sides in the first quarter, missing their chances but taking a 10 point lead into the quarter-time break.

The Bombers were in the fight early in the second quarter with Mason Redman bringing the crowd to their feet with multiple goal saving efforts in the unfamiliar surroundings of the defensive 50. The visitors were ever threatening, but an off the ball free kick handed a goal to Nick Kommer and a quick follow up from skipper Daniel Coghlan cut the margin to a straight kick at the main change.

The Bombers coaches whilst frustrated were encouraging that the Bombers were only a goal down after playing far from their best footy.

Ben Dobson was the main man up forward kicking five goals, booted the opening goal of the second half, quickly followed by Langford who made no mistake from 50 metres. The Bombers were showcasing some speed through transition which wasn’t there throughout the first half.

But just as Essendon looked the goods, Box Hill hit back hard with four unanswered goals to regain a 20 point lead. A creative soccer volley goal from Dobson and then a set shot from Sam Heavyside helped cut the margin to two kicks at three quarter time.

The Hawks had their chances to extend early in the final term but were wayward, before the ball reached Dobson at the other end who never looked like missing.

Coghlan, James Polkinghorne and Jackson Merrett were massive through the middle of ground with Simpkin highlighting his class with a dribble goal from tight in the pocket in his comeback from a hamstring injury.

Goals from Box Hill’s Langford and Miles restored what looked like it would be a match winning 14 point lead.

Dobson then nailed his fifth at the 18-minute mark before the Hawks missed a couple of chances to ice the game.

Edwards closed the gap with a mark and goal from inside the goal square, but gave his side the upper hand with a classy running goal from 40 metres out in the Bowling Club pocket.

Box Hill’s goal to regain the lead had remnants of Stephen Silvagni’s failed attempt to convince the goal umpire otherwise from Michael Long’s famous 1993 goal, with Coghlan and Aaron Francis among the Bombers adamant it brushed the post.

It mattered little following Ashby’s heroics. His goal capped off a solid day with 19 disposals.

Francis was outstanding and pushes closer to a senior debut, finishing the day with six marks and 18 disposals but most importantly a huge impact on the result.

Jackson Merrett and Polkinghorne had 28 possessions each, Ryan Crowley had 26 in his return and Coghlan gathered 25, all four standing up when the game was on a knife’s edge.

Edwards’ two final quarter goals and handball to Ashby highlighted his impact on the game, finishing with 27 touches.

But the day belonged to Ben Dobson, taking nine marks and having 20 disposals for his five goals.


Bombers coach Matthew Egan said the game was full of momentum swings and proved something about his team.

“I felt like they had a fair bit of the momentum for a lot of the game so for us to get the win in the last 15 seconds shows we found a way to get the job done and is a sign of a good team,” Egan said.

“We were lucky to get away with being 10 points down at quarter time, second quarter we were much better defensively but just couldn’t get scores going our way.

“As the game went on when we did the things the coaches were asking and when we did them well, we were scoring a lot.

“I think there was eight minutes to go and we were playing like there was two minutes to go, we were really reckless but once we calmed down a little bit was much better.

“We are talking about being consistent in what we do, we are still fluctuating throughout games but once we get our consistency right is when the improvement will come.”

Egan said it was an even spread when considering the Bombers better performers.

“Picking our best is difficult which is a good task. The players are playing their role and doing as we ask which is really important,” he said.

“Dobson really stood up for us, when we needed a goal and needed something to happen he was there.

“Francis was really consistent and did a really good job for us; we were trying to move him forward when they played a free man back, but decided he was playing so well down back we wanted to keep him there.

“Polky was outstanding in the last part, not sure how many clearances he had but we were six-one in  clearances in the last 10 minutes and he was a big driver of that.

“Edwards playing forward most of the day contributed and Ashby to finish it was great to see him building his form.

“Cogs again was really important and Merrett’s second half was excellent and started to use the ball well.”

The win sets up another mouth watering contest against Geelong next weekend.