Melbourne City FC held its breath for an hour after their 2-2 draw with Newcastle Jets to be crowned the Foxtel National Youth League Champions for 2014/15 on Sunday.
Although a win against the Jets would mean the Glory would need to win by a number of goals in Perth to take the title, Joe Palatsides’ chargers made their bus trip to Newcastle Airport an emotional rollercoaster after only walking away with a point from Magic Park in Newcastle.
The result meant that a Glory win or a Brisbane win by more than 2-1 would mean that the title would slip from the grasp of the youth side during the final minutes of the 2014/15 season.
Melbourne City FC were off to a blistering start in the second minute as a soft clearance from senior listed goalkeeper Jesse van Stratton was collected by Stefan Zinni. The young striker showed experience beyond his years, coolly finishing into an empty net.
Zinni’s early goal had Melbourne City FC going at Magic Park but the oppressive heat eventually wore down the away side. The contest became a much more even encounter, with the Jets looking dangerous on the counter.
It was Luka Prelevic however who had a golden chance to make it 2-0 in the 20th minute but the midfielder was just beaten to the ball by ‘keeper van Stratton.
The Jets’ danger from the counter finally paid off as a long ball to Bradey Crowley saw the striker cutback viciously across the penalty area, forcing Jonantan Germano to bundle his effort into his own net.
Although the experienced Jets side had nothing to play for in the league, senior positions were up for grabs for a range of their youth hopefuls and this was shown by their intent throughout the match.
A brilliantly lofted Prelevic ball on the stroke of half time found Germano through on goal but the Argentinian’s heavy touch pushed him wide, unable to recover from the effort.
Germano would finally redeem himself in the 52nd minute as a cross to the back post found the utility unmarked in the penalty area with time to take a touch and slam home.
The game was almost sealed in the 60th minute as talisman Wade Dekker marvellously turned his defender inside out, only having his goal bound shot tipped onto the bar by substitute ‘keeper John Solari.
Dekker’s missed opportunity turned the match for Melbourne City FC, as the Jets found themselves in the ascendancy.
Two important reflect saves from Andrew Redmayne in the 72nd and 77th minutes looked enough to give his side the spur to hold on for the win however it wasn’t the case, with the Jets equalising with two minutes of regular time remaining.
The serach for a winner was evident from Palatsides, pushing his men forward in droves and they were almost handed the miracle win when a Leo Athanasiou cross beat Solari in goals but Dekker saw his header towards an open goal sail over the bar, with the referee blowing his full-time whistle.
It was then the waiting game for the devastated youth side with news filtering through as they left the park that Perth Glory were 1-0 up in the opening stages.
A sombre bus ride to the airport became a jubilant moment for players and supporting staff as news filtered through of Brisbane’s 2-1 win over the Glory in Perth, meaning the side would win the league by ‘goals for’ with points and goal difference equal with the Roar.
Congratulations to Joe Palatsides and all of the youth and senior players and staff that have contributed to the FNYL side’s triumphs in 2014/15!