STRATHMORE might have emerged unbeaten, but Oak Park's fighting spirit in Essendon District Football League on Saturday was a reminder that the Roos still belong in premiership calculations.
The Mores kicked away to the biggest lead of the match midway through the final term before Oak Park pegged the deficit back to a 10-point defeat at Lebanon Reserve.
The 11.9 (75) to 9.11 (65) win keeps Strathmore on pace with unbeaten Greenvale (7-0) in premier division, while Oak Park (4-3) had its gap from fourth to fifth place cut to a game by Maribyrnong Park (3-4).
Click on the image below for our gallery of the big game.
However, Oak Park's long control of territory and general play at times was a sign that it could aspire to pushing up the ladder to chase third-placed Aberfeldie (6-1) rather than worry about what is coming from underneath.
The problem was scoreboard reward, with Oak Park failing to capitalise and giving up some costly goals through low percentage play.
Strathmore won the tactical battle in its forward 50m, isolating a number of one-on-one contests in open space and making the most of its entries into attack.
The Mores opened an 18-point lead when rain set in early in second quarter, with Oak Park turning the contest and keeping the Mores off the scoreboard for 20 minutes.
But kicking 2.3 during the dominant spell failed to get the Kangaroos in front, while Andrew Horne's goal seconds before half-time had the home team head in up by nine points
Oak Park pegged the margin back eight points in the final term before quick thinking from Jordan Doering broke the game open one last time.
He did his best to ensure the umpire saw a jumper hold 30m out from goal, then played on to advantage when the whistle went, catching out opponent Andrew Smith who had turned away from the ball to protest the free kick.
Doering ran into an open goal and two minutes later a 50m penalty walked Karl Staudt to the goal line to make the margin 21 points.
Oak Park kicked the last two goals of the game through influential big man Adrian Mastropasqua and Jack Pascu to make the margin 10 points.
But the siren sounded seconds later to end any thoughts of a close finish.
"We need to find that four or five goals," Oak Park coach Glenn Dawson said.
"We walked off today and discussed after the game that we can achieve it by getting those KPIs and one-percenters right.
"We didn't mention (the grand final) too much. A few of the boys spoke about it but it wasn't a big hit for us. The big hit was to gauge where are we, because we rate Strathmore and today says we're not far off the mark."