Foxtel National Youth League Head Coach Joe Palatsides says his will prepare for Sunday’s title decider like any other match after Saturday’s 2-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners at Epping Stadium.
The FNYL side worked hard in testing conditions to overcome the Mariners after first half goals to Iain Ramsay and Hernan Espindola secured the result (Full report). But Palatsides felt the win was an important psychological victory coming into the last game of the season, after dropping points in the past two matches from the same position.
“It was a big win in the context of our season.” Palatsides said.
“We talk about the development of the youth players and it’s always good to see them under pressure and this game was a pressure situation,
“The boys worked hard and they wanted to get something out of the year but sometimes pressure gets the better of you. We’ve made a couple of mistakes in the last couple of games and it’s good to see they’ve learnt from those mistakes so the season is in our hands again.”
With three teams in the mix for the title on the final day, Palatsides felt his side would not let the situation get to them, saying they will prepare for the match with Newcastle in the same way as any other match.
“I think we’ll approach it like we approach any game and I think the boys have been really good this year,” Palatsides said.
“We’ve played some tough trips like Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide away and we’ve always handled ourselves pretty well,
“We don’t really change much in the way we play, we concentrate on the things we need to do and usually that’s enough to get us a good result so we’ll go there with the same mind set,
“Having said that, I’m sure in the back of the mind of the players there will be this inkling that this is for the title. You’d much rather have the players playing for this rather than playing the last game of the season for no reason so it’ll be a good game.”
Palatsides will be without his regular goalkeeper, Marko Stevanja for the title decider with the ‘keeper sent off in the final stages of Saturday’s match for a second bookable offence, but the Head Coach believed whoever will replace the custodian will fit seamlessly into the side.
“We’ve had losses all through the year in terms of personnel,” Palatsides said.
“We went to Perth last week and we played two or three boys who didn’t play a minute throughout the year and they did really well so we’ll delve into the depths of the team and we’ll see who’s training well and playing well this week and they will come in and step up.”
The FNYL play their final match of the season against the 8th placed Newcastle Jets on Sunday afternoon at Magic Park on the New South Wales North Coast, kick-off 12:30pm.