PORT Fairy coach Winis Imbi is imploring his players to "stick the course" after registering a rare scoreless game in Hampden league senior football.
The Seagulls failed to hit the scoreboard in their humbling 31.20 (206) to 0.0 (0) loss to North Warrnambool Eagles at Bushfield Recreation Reserve on Saturday.
It was the Seagulls' fourth loss by 100 points or more in the past five rounds and came on a day when the club also forfeited its reserves match for the third time this season.
"This is a really hard thing to do because most people in life will get off course if they're not validated by winning," Imbi told The Standard.
"We know and we're hopeful that we're trying to create an environment that the boys will eventually win games of footy.
"They have to stick the course and get through the storm.
"The boys' morale and spirit is there. It's not doom and gloom. Our supporters are there, the old boys are there every game.
"We've just got to make sure we honour the jumper and all the people who support us and also honour each other in the way we go about it."
Imbi said the Seagulls "fought it out to the end", praising the likes of Matt Sully, Kaine Mercovich and George Swarbrick who would "play with a broken leg".
"I was pleased with the boys' efforts. There's only been one time where I have questioned that and it was against Cobden," he said.
"Am I happy with the scoreline? No. But I am also realistic as to why it occurred.
"North are a great side, they are coached well, they have good players and they have talent and system.
"We only played 20 people today which was tough."
Port Fairy, which also only had 16 players in its under 16s, is battling a player crises.
"It's not as if our boys aren't there - we just have a ridiculous injury list," Imbi said. "We had two players fall off a roof and a ladder. One being Jake Bartlett who has now broken his collarbone and will be out for the rest of the season.
"Our numbers are OK, it's that we can't get them on the park and we've also made decisions the last three or four weeks - and it was a planning thing too with our under 18s coach - that we would have our juniors play together as a group.
"It is really important for our whole club that friendship groups get to play and forge great relationships.
"We could have had numbers from our under 18s but we're trying to make decisions that are best long-term not just short-term."
Port Fairy has set goals for its players for the remainder of the season.
"Craig McRae from Collingwood said it really well last week in his press conference - we're trying to create winning habits," he said.
"We know the boys need to do extras in terms of making themselves better individually and collectively and the boys are getting clarity with footage each week - there's an individual package and a lines package.
"People may not expect us to win games but we've definitely got bench-markers in there that we hold ourselves accountable to.
"There's some non-negotiable (areas) like the way we want to move the ball, our tackling efficiency, our level of communication."
North Warrnambool Eagles coach Adam Dowie conceded he "felt a bit flat".
"It's a bit of a battle (in the league). There's often one-sided results," he said.
"After the game in the rooms I spoke about what does success look like? At the moment is success about winning or losing games or the bigger picture might be just making sure your club is surviving and getting through and giving people a place to play netball and football.
"Sometimes you take that for granted."
Experienced Eagle defender Tom Batten, who missed on Saturday, will have surgery on a facial injury on Friday and be sidelined for a number of weeks.
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