WARRNAMBOOL Rangers expect their final round clash against Forest to be the ideal preparation for finals.
The Rangers will finish second on the Ballarat and District Soccer Association division one ladder, setting up a showdown with pace-setter Ballarat in week one of the finals in two weeks’ time.
The winner of the one-versus-two battle will earn a direct passage to the grand final, while the loser will get a second chance against the winner of the third-versus-fourth elimination final.
Forest sits third on the table, nine wins adrift of Warrnambool.
But Rangers coach Nick van Rooy said Forest would challenge his side in its final home game at Jones Oval on Sunday.
“Forest has been really good lately,” he said.
“They got up against Vic Park yesterday and gave Ballarat a run for their money the other day.
“They’re a physical team and it will be a tough game.”
Warrnambool accounted for North United on Sunday to improve its record to 16 wins, two losses and one draw.
Scores were tied at nil-all at half-time before Martin van Rooy, Eli Slater and Rhys Clapp hit the scoresheet to steer the Rangers to a 4-0 win.
Slater slotted two goals —the last of the game a clever header — and Clapp kicked his first goal for the season.
Nick said it was a battle of the defences in the first half.
“Both teams had attacking chances throughout the first half,” he said.
“Their keeper kept them in it.
“He saved four or five brilliant shots one-on-one.
“(For us) Cam Pyke kept us with a clean sheet.”
Nick said Rangers “stepped up to the plate” after the main break.
“We didn’t have to change much at half-time,” he said.
“We always looked dangerous going forward so I wasn’t too concerned.”
Warrnambool kicked against the breeze the entire game.
“We were against the wind in the first half and it was a little harder going forward,” Nick said. “Unfortunately at half-time the wind changed.”
Slater, Lee Sharples and Liam Priestley, who played a full game in division two, were the Rangers’ best.
Meanwhile, Warrnambool’s women’s side sits in fifth spot with one round to play following a 2-1 win against North United White.
Shkara Rantall and India Burns were the Rangers’ goal scorers. The Rangers’ division two men occupy second spot on the table after downing North United 1-0. Their under 17s crushed Maryborough 15-1 with Charlie Locke slotting four goals, while their under 15s suffered an 11-0 loss to Sebastopol.