Round 22 – Carlton V Melbourne

Liam Chambers

The soft call

What else was Caleb Marchbank going to say? The soft call should have been a goal, letting the review decide. Heartbreaking result for all Demon fans.

Sea of blue unable to swamp the Dees.

With Carlton coming off seven wins in a row, including the scalps of the top two sides. it was always going to be a close game.

From the first minute, the Blues were dominating territory, with Melbourne struggling to get clean possession. The Dees were locked into constant defence mode, dealing with successive waves of attack. For all Carlton’s pressure though, it took them seventeen minutes to land the first point.

Following that, Charlie Cameron had two set shots in two minutes, hitting the target with his second attempt. After the goal, Carlton continued to dominate, but no amount of pressure would translate into another major for the hosts.

Then, with a minute to go, Ed Langdon marked a Jake Melksham kick, right in the middle of the square. The wingman went back and kicked from 10m, putting Melbourne on the scoreboard for the first time in the match.

Melbourne makes some inroads.

In a high pressure first term, the Blues dominated inside 50s, but Melbourne absorbed the slings and arrows, before fighting back to make the most of their limited chances. However, the Dees were going to have to do something special in order to get numbers into their forward 50.

They did this early in the quarter, finding some space to make their way up the ground. Christian Petracca’s kick to Jake Melksham inside 50, gave the forward just enough time to collect, side step and get the ball to Kade Chandler, who then tapped it in from the goal square.

The second term was proving to be an even contest, with Melbourne spending more time inside 50 where they created some good opportunities. The sides were well matched and in top form but conversely, the few set shot chances presented at either end failed to hit the target.

Then Petracca had an opportunity from 40m, and he didn’t miss, taking the Dees’ lead to eight points.

Carlton clawed the margin back to three a few minutes later when Jack Martin converted his set shot from the pocket. With two minutes left in the half, Blake Acres marked directly in front. His 25m set shot was accurate, putting Carlton in front again.

Nothing to separate the sides.

After the main break, the Blues resumed their onslaught on Melbourne’s defence, with no let up in the intensity.

Again the Dees absorbed the pressure but eventually Carlton broke through when Patrick Cripps was awarded a free kick 20m in front. 

Trailing by nine points, Melbourne responded by swarming the Blues’ defence but without troubling the scoreboard too much. Unfortunately up the other end, Matthew Owies found himself with plenty of space inside 50 to mark Charlie Cameron’s kick from 60m. The tap in from the edge of the square increased Carlton’s advantage to fourteen points.

In a quick reply, Tom Sparrow launched a kick from 70m, landing the ball inside the goal square, where it bounced across the line. From a low scoring first half, suddenly it was four goals in quick succession, when Sam Docherty was able to collect the chaos ball in front of goal and chip it through the uprights.

Then, from a chaos ball at Carlton’s end, another one presented itself in front of Melbourne’s goal. There was three Demons in the square trying to control the sherrin with the rain falling and a general state of confusion in the air. As the ball bounced haphazardly, Petracca got the boot in and sent it across the line.

Following that combination of skill and luck, one of last week’s hat trick heroes, Alex Neal-Bullen, then took a mark deep in the pocket. Not normally associated with set shots from difficult angels, the tough midfielder went back and slotted the ball beautifully.

The contest couldn’t have been closer at three quarter time with the scores locked at forty two points apiece.

Carlton puts its hand out.

The Blues got the opening goal of the final term, shortly after the bounce, when Matthew Owies was able to pick up the ground ball and snap it in from 40m. It was two for Carlton in just over a minute when Tom De Koning marked the ball 20m in front and converted.

When Charlie Curnow marked and kicked the 50m set shot for his second goal of the game, it was looking extremely ominous for Melbourne.

We desperately needed a circuit breaker, and it was duly delivered in spectacular style. Kozzie Pickett was having a relatively quiet night, but that changed abruptly when he gathered the ball in the midst of a dozen players and somehow got a kick away. The untouched sherrin floated through the air and touched down just behind the goal line.

Two minutes later, Joel Smith took a mark in the pocket and slotted his set shot, making it a one goal game.

Both sides had their chances to add to the goal tally, but the scoreline remained tight.

It had been a highly competitive match, but the biggest drama was yet to come. Petracca marked just outside the arc, then ran around and kicked from 55m. The ball sailed high and long, just falling over the goal line. The Umpire called it a minor score, believing that the ball had been touched by the Carlton defender.

As is the case in the vast majority of the soft calls, the review went with the Umpire’s call, as there was insufficient evidence to show that Caleb Marchbank hadn’t touched the ball. Given the circumstances and the ruling in Carltons’ favour, it would have taken an incredibly brave defender to put his hand up (pardon the pun) and admit that he failed to make contact with the sherrin.

The loss has probably cost us second spot on the ladder. However, there are still two games to play in the regular season and we need to reset and focus on winning those matches.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!