STRATHDALE and Eaglehawk will battle for early season bragging rights on Sunday when the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League’s two top teams meet at Truscott Reserve.
Eaglehawk is the competition’s reigning champion but it has been the unbeaten Blues who have taken the ascendancy in the early part of the 2018 campaign.
Impressively, Strathdale also sits atop the division two and youth tables, while the Blues are sixth in the women’s championship.
The Blues have had the easier run of the two sides through the opening weeks of the season, playing no side higher than Spring Gully United in sixth having beaten the bottom two teams.
While Eaglehawk is also undefeated, a 2-2 draw with Shepparton United in the opening round sees them two points adrift of the Blues in second.
Even without championship winning duo Jan Kerr and Andre Latt, the Hawks have had enough depth to seamlessly cover the losses and again emerge as a force in the competition.
They recorded a 3-1 win over last placed Golden City last week, in a sure sign that the BASL is a far more even competition in 2017.
While there were regular beatings by double-digit margins last year, the second season of the combined Bendigo and Goulburn valley competition has seen a much more competitive start.
The biggest victory by any side so far is seven goals, undoubtedly convincing but far from the regularly huge margins of last season.
Captain Brent Hamblin and former coach Greg Thomas lead the way for the Hawks having combined for five goals in the early stages, while the dangerous Riley Hayton remains a scoring threat.
Working in the Blues’ favour may be the fact that they were one of only two teams to beat the Hawks at home last year, registering a 2-0 win in round 16.
Other games see Epsom hosting Tatura, Moama-Echuca against Shepparton United, Shepparton travel to Golden City and Colts United playing Spring Gully United.