After over six months of football in the 2015 PS4 National Premier Leagues Men’s 1 Grade 20s competition, it seems only right that the two best teams of the year, Blacktown City FC and Marconi Stallions FC, have emerged at the end of the season to contest this weekend’s Grand Final at Leichhardt Oval.
Sutherland Sharks sat top of the ladder for the first nine rounds of the season before being unsettled by the Stallions, who temporarily replaced the Sharks in first place before slipping back to second in the last quarter of the season.
Meanwhile, Blacktown City strung together a remarkable run of results to claim top spot in Round 17; not looking back as they put six points between themselves and second placed Marconi as the regular season came to a close.
For Blacktown City FC today’s Grand Final represents an opportunity to consolidate their Premiership win with a second crown – the Championship – as well as a chance to extend their extraordinary unbeaten streak for another match. John Carnevale’s side is undefeated since late May, during which time they have managed to maintain an average of over three goals a game. It’s this form that puts them in good stead for a victory at Leichhardt Oval today.
“We’ve done so well to be unbeaten for 16 matches,” Carnevale says.
“We just hope we can wrap it up in style this weekend, it’d be just reward for a fantastic season.
“When you get on a roll, confidence runs high but Grand Finals are special – it’s just down to which team is better on the day.
Carnevale says he and his players are expecting Marconi to be a tougher nut to crack than was the case in the Major Semi Final two weeks ago when his Blacktown side won 3-1.
“On that day, Marconi probably weren’t at their best but I think they got back to that against Olympic last week. We came in first and they came in second, we’re one win apiece plus a draw from our matches this year so it should be tight.”
It’s a match that carries some extra significance for Stallions’ head coach Nick Dimovski after Marconi’s defeat in the Major Semi Final.
“I’m very excited to have a chance to set the record straight – we’re coming into this game as underdogs against the Premiers, and they were the first team to qualify for the Grand Final so I think they’re deservedly favourites.
We’re keen to get out there, and stand up and be counted.
Reflecting on a testing season at Marconi Stallions Football Club, Dimovski says his players have worked themselves into the ground to get to the Grand Final.
“It’s a proud moment for the boys at the end of a tough season for the club. The boys have worked really hard for each other this season, and they fully deserve to be here. A final is where Marconi should be.
“We’ve had to work for everything this season so we’re excited to get out there and give Blacktown and John Carnevale a good game.”
Blacktown City and Marconi Stallions have met three times previously this season: Blacktown came away with a 3-1 in the Major Semi Final at Lilys Football Centre in the first week of the finals, yet were unable to defeat Marconi in either of their regular season fixtures this season, having lost 2-1 away in Round Eight before being held to a 1-1 draw at Lilys in Round 19.
With Sunday’s Grand Final pitting the competition’s best attack in Blacktown City against the league’s best defence in Marconi, Sunday afternoon’s match promises to be another enthralling encounter between these two sides.
-By Max Grieve