14 April 2020
This was totally unexpected. I didn’t give us a hope in hell of winning the league, and was just settling for a solid top five finish. Especially after the way we dropped off in form over the mid season period. We owed this as much to the Victory falling apart during the run in as anything else. I am not convinced that we were the better side throughout, but we came good when it mattered.
Blow by Blow
Another key player out! Only for a week, but damn! Really??? Then I checked the schedule. We have 14 days off before our next match.
Sergej Adilovic has been one of my key back-up players and the news that he is effectively out for the rest of the season is a blow.
Players called up for internationals
Usually I am happy for my players to play for their countries. However this time I decided to withdraw Booth and Brook from the team due to them just coming back from injury.
They are both young, and will have plenty of time to get international caps.
Sam Booth is back in training which is good news. He is going to have to carry the defence over the last three games and get us across the line.
The Phoenix have started to find form but it’s too little too late. Or is it? That win bumps them into 5th place but there are still games to play. The loss hurts the Heart’s chances.
The Victory pick up a point, but not the three points they needed.
Hyundai A-League – Match 25/27
A win for the Wanderers would put them top. A win for us will put us four points clear. Very much all to play for here. Nick Wells and “The Major” are both still travelling back from Australia duty. This will hand youngster Nikos Tsatsalidis his Jets debut in one of the most important games of the season. Both previous meetings have ended 0-0.
Wanderers start well and young Tsatsalidis makes a series of crucial saves to deny them. Dobson opens the scoring with a fantastic strike, and our young keeper makes another top draw save to keep us ahead. On the stroke of half-time Clayton King puts us two goals to the good. With 15 minutes to go Devid Carli scores out third and I feel finally that we have the vital win.
The Count collected the player of the match award for a sterling effort.
In my mind young Nikos was the hero today. He kept us in the game. To keep a clean sheet with a 7.30 rating on debut is impressive.
Hyundai A-League – Match 26/27
This is the big one! Win this and top spot is ours. The only change from last match is the return of “The Major” in goal, Nikos Koumantaros at the back, and Nick Wells to the bench. Rory Adams is still not fit enough to play this game so am targeting his return for the Mariners game.
Michael Dobson got us off to a flyer with a great solo effort. He added his second following up a rebound and we were firmly in control of the match. We had a plethora of chances to extend the lead, but were unable to make them stick. “The Major” Hughes pulled off a fantastic save to keep his 12th clean sheet for the season.
Dobson Player of the Match
Michael Dobson picked up a deserved player of the match award for his two goals in the last match.
We secured the title with a game to spare. Thanks in part to Melbourne Victory who fell apart at the end. Honestly I was resigned for a mid top-six finish after our poor run of form. Suddenly we came good and went on a 12 match unbeaten run.
The supporters love me!
The board love me too!!!
Just confirming the 12 match run which is a club record!
Hyundai A-League – Match 27/27
Last game of the regular season sees us come up against the struggling Central Coast Mariners. It is a chance to give a few fringe players some minutes.
The Count opens the scoring with a fine piece of finishing. Young keeper Tsatsalidis produced a fine save to deny the Mariners and preserve our lead. Devid Carli scores his 12th goal of the season by finishing a nice team move on the stroke of half time. Michael Dobson made it three with a cracking free kick. We were guilty of taking our foot off the gas and let them get a goal back through some sloppy play. In the end it finished 3-1.
Although the club has won the Finals Series before, it has never finished top of the league. So a first for us here.
The Major collects his third consecutive Golden Glove award. He is a legend!
Devid Carli finished third in the Golden Boot award.
And I won manager of the year in the third different league.
Team of the year
Such is the balanced nature of the league that we only had two names on the All-Star XI. “The Major” and Sean Brook made the starting line-up.
Three wins from our last three games.
Four points clear in the end. I am honestly shocked at how things have turned around.
The A-League Finals Series kicks off. This is unusual to be treated as a separate title, as in reality it is the grand final that determines the A-League winner.
Third hosts sixth placed finisher, and fourth hosts the fifth. As top qualifier we have home field advantage against the lesser ranked team who win their semi-final. If the Phoenix wins, we will get them, if not we will get the winner of the Wanderers v Adelaide.