By Louise Taffa
As the final round of the National Youth League kicks off today, finals positions are on the line in both conferences – this season has proved to be tighter than expected.
Perth Glory ended their campaign with a stunning comeback to draw 3-3 with Melbourne City at C.B Smith Reserve. The late equaliser came through Kristian Popovic, Tony Popovic’s son. Unfortunately for City, that puts them in a tricky position, one now reliant on other results going their way.
Bottom-placed Melbourne Victory host the Conference A leaders Brisbane Roar at Lakeside Stadium this afternoon, and if Victory are able to defeat Roar, City would just need a draw against Adelaide United.
Should Victory and Brisbane draw, Joe Palatsides’ side would need three points to overtake the Roar and claim that spot in the 2018/19 final. However, last time Victory and Roar met, it was the Conference leaders who thrashed Gareth Naven’s team 6-0, something City will be hoping doesn’t happen again today.
In Conference B, the race for the Grand Final spot is equally as tight. The two Sydney teams found the finish line yet again this season and now all will be decided in the upcoming Sydney Derby, which fittingly is the last game of the 2018/19 NYL campaign.
The Sydney Derby could go all the way to penalties given the stunning form of both goalkeepers: the Sky Blues’ Duro Dragicevic has conceded the least amount of goals across both conferences (6), with Western Sydney Wanderers’ Nick Suman just behind him (7). Considering Suman has also just made his fourth start between the sticks in the A-League, he’ll be confident he can keep out Sydney FC’s attacking threats to see that they defend the Youth League title.
In the previous Sydney derby this season, a first half penalty from Marley Peterson separated the two teams giving the Red & Black a 1-0 victory.
Round 10 Fixtures
Melbourne Victory v Brisbane Roar (Friday 25th January, 4pm AEDT)
Adelaide United v Melbourne City (Friday 25th January, 4:30pm AEDT)
Canberra United v Newcastle Jets (Saturday 26th January, 6:30pm AEDT)
Sydney Derby (Sunday 27th January, 4:30pm AEDT)
My tip: It will be very tight however I’m going for a Brisbane Roar v Sydney FC final.
*Photo (Brisbane Roar’s forward Mirza Muratovic) by Louise Taffa