Sydenham Park has occupied the field for 450 minutes in Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 1 soccer this season – and conceded a solitary goal.
The Reds were unbreakable again on Saturday in a 1-0 win over North Sunshine Eagles at Keilor Lodge Reserve.
A fourth clean sheet for goalkeeper Juro Salic has pushed the Reds to second on the table – three points in arrears of the ladder leaders, Preston Lions.
Reds coach Denii Lisolajski said his team’s impressive defensive record was the product of preparation.
“The boys don’t just rock up on a Saturday and try to hold off as much as they can,” he said.
“They work their socks off on a Tuesday and a Thursday. We work on structure a fair bit … to their credit, I’m getting a response from them.
“They’re sticking to the game plan, so it’s pretty positive at the moment.”
It was a case of better late than never when Sydenham Park found a winner against North Sunshine. Chris Davies played the role of the match-winner, making a diagonal run to latch on to a through ball from Ryan Newman in the 79th minute.
Davies was breathing a sigh of relief after netting for the first time in the league this season.
“Really pleased for Chris today because he’s been working so hard behind the scenes,” Lisolajski said. “It was just a matter of time.
“With some assistance and encouragement from his teammates, today he got rewarded.”
Lisolajski also tipped his hat to goalkeeper Salic.
Salic is an accidental keeper, having played most of his youth career as a central midfielder until a goalkeeper in his team was red carded.
Lisolajski was Salic’s coach at the time and called on an outfield player to step into the goalkeeper’s role – and Salic put his hand up.
It took just one game for Lisolajski to be impressed with Salic’s glove work.
“I approached him after the game and asked him if he’s considered being a goalkeeper,” Lisolajski said. “He said, ‘No I haven’t, but I felt like I could be one’. So I seriously recommended it to him. Three years on, he’s the No.1 keeper at Sydenham.
“He’s absolutely quality as a keeper and he’s like another player on the park because he’s so comfortable with the ball at his feet given he was a midfielder.
“A lot of praise has to go to Roy Hunter, our goalkeeping coach.”
Sydenham Park will be looking to continue its strong form when it travels to FC Clifton Hill on Saturday.
With a newly constructed team, Lisolajski is adamant the Reds have not reached their peak.
“We’re nowhere near our best at the moment, but we’re still dominating games and picking up points,” he said.
In other state league 1 games, Caroline Springs George Cross was dominant in a 4-1 win over Essendon Royals. Dominic Swinton fired in a double for the Georgies.
Keilor Park edged out Yarraville Glory 2-1 after goals to Keegan Linderboom and Matthew Sirgiovanni.
Brimbank Stallions became the latest victims of ladder leading Preston Lions, losing 2-1.
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