Tristan Prendergast is confident that Blacktown City FC have what it takes to go all the way in 2019.
Mark Crittenden’s men flexed their Championship credentials with a stunning 2-0 victory over likely Premiers the Wollongong Wolves on Sunday afternoon.
The result at Lily Holmes Stadium locked in third spot for Blacktown; but their custodian assured that they are just getting started.
Since the turn of the campaign, Blacktown have been arguably the form side of the competition, with Prendergast the last line of a stubborn defensive unit that have conceded an average of less than a goal a game in that period.
This has coincided with a run that has seen the Western Sydney club taste defeat only once in their last eleven outings.
And after APIA Leichhardt’s shock 2-2 draw with Sydney FC on Saturday, Blacktown now find themselves just two points astray of 2nd spot heading into the penultimate round of the season.
With the newly-found prospect of securing a home final in the coming weeks, Prendergast enforced that the psychological impact of Sunday’s result cannot be underestimated.
“It was a good day, the boys all showed up,” the shot-stopper reflected.
“Our back five together earned another clean sheet and I think we have really clicked and not conceded too many goals this year.
“Credit to the boys up front as well for sticking to the game plan.
“It’s given us a huge amount of confidence heading into the finals, just to know that they (Wollongong) are beatable.
“It was a good feeling securing the top three and we’re still pushing for second.
“Obviously that’s the goal: to finish the year as high as we can.”
The 24-year-old goalkeeper possesses experience and a temperament well beyond his years.
Growing up in Queensland, Prendergast made the move south to the Tasmanian Institute of Sport before settling in the Harbour City after Sydney FC offered him a National Youth League contract back in 2013.
The following year, he debuted in the NPL as a 19-year-old with the Bonnyrigg White Eagles, before transferring to Blacktown in 2015.
Since then he has established himself as the club’s number one and is already treasuring his role as a senior figure in what is a youthful squad.
“I think personally, being in my fifth year at the club I am trying to be a bit more of a senior player,” Prendergast said.
“We have a very young squad this year – the average age was around 21 heading into the start of the season.
“Being one of the more experienced players around the squad I try to talk to the younger boys and guide them through.
“By helping out Matty Lewis and Joey Gibbs who are the captains we can assist the boys in getting us to where we want to be.”
Despite boasting one of the youngest squads in the competition and suffering an immense turnover in personnel prior to the campaign, Blacktown have defied all of the odds to chase another Championship.
With the momentum they currently hold, the 2016 National Premier Leagues NSW Champions will be tough to stop come finals time.
Prendergast maintained that this season has more-or-less run to plan for the club.
“I was definitely always confident,” he enforced.
“Everyone had written us off a bit earlier in the season, we had a big changeover in the squad with more new players than old players returning.
“We were always going to take a bit of time; it was never going to be something that happened overnight.
“But everyone was confident we still had that solid core and it was just a matter of getting it to click, and once it did click and everyone was on the same page, that we were definitely capable of doing what we have done so far.”
Prendergast sent out a frightening warning to the competition by revealing his side’s lofty intentions moving forward.
“We definitely would hope that we can get second and the home semi-final.
“Then the goal for us is to go on and win it.
“I think we proved on Sunday that we are a genuine title contender.
“So for us, we would like to keep this form going, keep the way we have been playing and hopefully go on and win the Grand Final.”
Blacktown City have two away trips to round out the campaign, commencing with a tasty fixture on the road at Marconi this Saturday night.
By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Reporter Chris Curulli (Twitter handle @ChrisCurulli)