Having spent the entire season amongst the Top-Five, the Reds from Edensor Park very nearly saw their hard work come undone as a final sprint by A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers almost saw the Leichhardt side pip Ivan Petkovic?s men at the finish line.
?It has been a very good season by my players, though the final few weeks were very difficult for us – It is a huge relief to be in the Top-Five,? commented Sydney United boss Ivan Petkovic following the 0-0 draw at Belmore Sports Ground against Sydney Olympic.
The Reds needed to avoid defeat against the Blues last weekend, with the Tigers needing to win by three-clear goals if Sydney United managed to pick up a point.
As it ended, Sydney United did draw the clash, though A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt could only manage a one-goal win (4-3) against Penrith-Nepean United.
The Sydney United bench was under immense pressure throughout the Belmore Sports Ground clash as updates from the Tigers clash with Penrith filtered through, and Ivan Petkovic admitted that he thought the Blues had scored the winner when Anthony Hartshorn had a header plucked out of the air by Reds? goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic.
?I thought the ball was in. We left the player free in the penalty-area and when I saw him head the ball, I though our chances were all over,? Petkovic added.
?Janjetovic was very good for us, he made some very important saves and we were lucky to have him save us on a couple of occasions.?
Sydney United?s run home did not reflect the free-flowing results of the earlier part of the season, though a long list of injuries and suspensions have certainly not helped their cause.
Without suspended trio Todd Brodie, Josip Moric and Damon Collina for the Sydney Olympic clash ? the latter two players to return for the elimination semi-final ? the Reds hopes were certainly thin prior to the match; meanwhile Petar Markovic had been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a back injury and Mark Robertson was a last minute casualty following a fitness test on match-day.
?We have struggled with some important players not being available. We?ll have Moric and Collina available for the next match, though Markovic will be out for the rest of the season.
?With one week off for the team, I hope to have Robertson available in time for the Manly United match because his presence in the middle of the park is important.?
Following a disappointing 2007 campaign, Petkovic has brought satisfaction to the supporters with an important Top-Five finish, though how far can this Sydney United go?
?I believe this team is very talented and capable of going very far in the finals. It now becomes sudden death so anything can happen in these matches.
?I feel that this team can play some great football, we like to play the ball around and move it through the midfield instead of playing the long-ball.
?This makes for a more attractive style of play. If we can re-group and get some of our players that have been out back in-time for the next match, I think that we have a good chance of going further in the finals; even though the teams that finished above us will believe they can go further than us,? concluded Petkovic.
-By Joseph Carlucci