Blacktown City FC and Joey Gibbs are hitting formidable form as they head into the business end of the 2019 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s season.
The 27-year-old marksman capped off his recent purple patch with a stunning bicycle kick to seal Blacktown’s 3-1 triumph over Sydney FC at Lily Holmes Stadium on Sunday, earning himself a place in the Ultra Football Round 17 Team of the Week.
“It was a good one to get, definitely one of the highlights of the season so far,” Gibbs reflected.
“The ball just flicked up and it was one of those ones that didn’t really have too much thought involved.
“I’ve tried a few before but never really executed it!”
After uncharacteristically scoring only a single goal in the competition’s first eleven rounds, Gibbs has registered five strikes in six since the turn of the campaign.
The former A-League striker attributed the slow start to a worthwhile transformation in roster and style overseen by Mark Crittenden at the Western Sydney club this season.
“We haven’t been scoring overly freely in general this year, but that is through no fault of our own,” Gibbs explained.
“Our team mentality is a little more conservative this year than we have been in previous years, but it has worked well for us.
“We are a very new team and I think that means there are a lot of new combinations to be formed in the final third which you can see we are slowly developing.
“I’m sure we’re going to score more as a team, and even individually, in this second round compared to the first round as there was such a high turnover last year.
“It’s all going to plan.”
Speaking on his early season goal-drought, Gibbs revealed he was confident that it would eventually come to an end as his side’s fortunes improved.
“Being a striker, you always get a little worried when the goals aren’t going in,” the Manly United junior admitted.
“But in all honestly I know the quality that ‘Critto’ brought in and he really does emphasise the culture, discipline and work ethic of the team.
“The pre-season we put in was some of the highest quality work we have done at the club since I’ve been there.
“It was just a matter of being patient, confident, executing when I get the chance, and really backing that the work would pay off.
“We’re still far from the finished product we think we should be, but we’re seeing a few baby steps now which is good.”
Gibbs’s explosion of form coincides with Blacktown’s recent run which has catapulted them up to third after suffering only one defeat in eight.
This has afforded them some breathing space ahead of the congested race for the top five, an advantage that Gibbs is determined to maintain.
“We’re sitting in third, but the table is very tight,” he said.
“I’m very confident in our squad and the fact that we’re still developing and getting better.”
“While it’s risky to set too lofty targets with such a tight table I do think we’re good enough to finish in the top three.
“Finals time is all about going into those games with form.
“Hopefully we can continue our current momentum into the final part of the season and who knows what can happen from there.”
A potentially decisive 2nd vs 3rd clash awaits Blacktown this upcoming weekend when APIA Leichhardt Tigers visit Lily Holmes Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Gibbs is relishing the opportunity to cement a position in the competition’s top three.
“We have a big respect for APIA and I personally enjoy playing against them as it is always a high-quality, high-intensity game,” he said.
“It’s set up quite nicely in that if we win, we’re within one point and if they win, they’ll stretch quite far ahead.
“It’s going to be a big game.
“We look forward to the big ones at Blacktown so it should be a nice spectacle.”
By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Reporter Chris Curulli (Twitter handle @ChrisCurulli)