STARTING players in unfamiliar positions out of necessity could prove a blessing in disguise for Warrnambool Rangers.
The Ballarat and District Soccer Association title contender was undermanned in defence against ladder-leader Sebastopol Vikings on Sunday.
It meant midfield regulars Josh Bourke, James MacAuslan and Michael Loughhead were thrown into the back line.
Rangers coach Cam Pyke said the trio performed admirably, helping the team to 1-0 start before the undefeated Vikings wrested momentum, winning 4-1.
Bourke, MacAuslan and Loughhead helped cover the absent Connor Bellman, Jonas Welsh and Cameron Jennings - the latter is away for an extended period working in the snow.
"We were not only able to hold Sebas out but create a few chances for ourselves," Pyke said.
"There were heaps of positives for us and as a coach I picked up on a few things that hopefully when we come to play them in finals we can take advantage of."
Pyke said the forced changes to the back line allowed him to see a different combination in action.
"The guys who came in and played in defence did an amazing job to hold Sebastopol at bay for as long as we did," he said.
"Considering all three of them aren't the tallest guys, it made it very difficult but I was very happy none the less because they stood up to the challenge.
"They are three players who always give 100 per cent, you know what you're going to get from them and they dug in."
Bellman and Welsh will be available for Sunday's home game against Ballarat Red.
"The guys who did a job on the weekend have earned the right to hold their spot and even though they're not traditional defenders, it could be a point of difference we work on," Pyke said.
"We need to be adaptable and knowing those guys can do a job there means it's good as a coach to know we can be flexible."
The Rangers (9-4) sit third on the ladder. The top-four will play a three-week finals series.
The women's side also fell to Vikings 2-0 on Sunday. Pyke, who is club president, said it was a gallant effort from the much-improved team. "It's positive to see how they've progressed," he said.
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