Richmond will finish bottom of the NPL2 East Table this season, following a 5-3 loss at home to Goulburn Valley Suns on Saturday afternoon.The Eagles’ status in the NPL remains uncertain however, as FFV is re-considering its view on the make-up of the state’s top divisions in 2018.The review from FFV, which was due to be finalised last month, is expected to be completed imminently. Richmond is awaiting the governing body’s decision before it can commence planning for the 2018 season and beyond, with emphasis being placed on the affect on the club’s junior pathways system.
13 players represented the Eagles at senior level this season who had spent time in the club’s junior ranks. Were relegation from the senior competition to force the junior teams to also lose NPL status, it would force a major change to the club’s ideology.The importance of Richmond’s junior pathway was on show on Saturday, as youth products Valli Cesnik, Dion Gavalas and debutant Nicky Edwards made starts. Lachlan Hogben also appeared from the bench in the opening minutes, as Archie Sweeney suffered a broken collarbone. George Voliotis was another former Richmond junior to appear in the second half.
Cesnik was undoubtedly Richmond’s star man as he has been for much of the season. The winger brought the Eagles level in the first half with his tenth goal of the season and teed up defender Scott Hilliar for two goals in the second half.Unfortunately, Cesnik and his team mates’ efforts were in vein. Richmond conceded two sloppy goals in the first half and were chasing the game from that point on.
The desperation surrounding the Eagles’ position in both the match and the table meant they were forced to throw numbers forward and leave themselves open at the back, which their opponents were able to punish.Richmond couldn’t draw level again after half-time. A goal from Suns forward Stefan Papageorgiou doubled the half-time lead, before each of Hilliar’s strikes were answered quickly by the Shepparton outfit.
The result means that Richmond have ended their most important stretch of the season on a disappointing three-match losing streak, after such positive form from Brian Vanega’s side prior to this barren run. Richmond’s final match of the season is this weekend away to champions Dandenong Thunder.
The club will hope to have been made aware of the FFV’s decision regarding its NPL status in 2018 by the conclusion of the season.