U20’s crowned champions

Sydney FC U20’s were crowned champions of the NPL NSW U20’s competition on Saturday afternoon after dominating Mt Druitt Town Rangers in the Grand Final at CommBank Stadium.

The U20’s show-piece followed a fantastic season from Coach Matt Sim’s side who finished the league in 2nd place, scoring the most goals in the competition with 64 in total across 22 league matches.

Sim named a strong line-up for this one, with a number of the boys having the added experience of training with the Isuzu UTE A-League side and that experience and mental fortitude was tested early when Mt Druitt won a penalty and converted within the opening five minutes and the Sky Blues found themselves behind.

What transpired from here on in was nothing more than dominance from the U20’s as they took control of the contest and demonstrated what they have in their locker. It took until the 30th minute for the pressure to tell however as Luka Smyth was brought down in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Smyth dispatched his penalty with confidence into the top corner and the match was level heading into the break.

Luka Smyth’s first half penalty

Sydney continued to dominate Rangers and the pressure finally told when Mt Druitt were shown a straight red card in the second half and the contest sat ultimately in the hands of Sydney. Soon, Smyth again got on the scoresheet, first to react to a loose ball, sliding in to make it 2-1.

As the game neared its conclusion, Sim looked to the bench to freshen the legs and the substitution would prove decisive as Alen Harbas turned inside the box and flashed his effort across the keeper and into the far corner.

Despite more continued pressure, the score would remain at three and Sydney FC U20’s were rightly crowned champions by a scoreline of 3-1.

Speaking post-match, goal-scorer Luka Smyth was pleased with the collective group effort.

“We came into the game knowing what we had to do, and we stuck to our game-plan. Even though I scored, it’s not just me, its them too.

“We’ve worked so hard all season and to win it, is such a pleasure.”

Coach Matt Sim also spoke highly about the development that the players have gained this season and what it means moving forward.

“The development of this group has been great this year and we used over 30 academy players this season from as young as our 2006 group, so this win is a real collective effort.

“The under 20s age group is a real opportunity for us to expose high performing younger players and give them a taste of a level of physicality closer to senior football and blend them in with some boys who have already had that experience,” Sim added.

“A lot of these players have tasted NPL first team football already and some even involved in the Australia Cup with the A-League team, so hopefully this taste of winning a trophy continues to drive and push them to achieve more in their football careers,” Sim concluded.

Congratulations to everyone involved with the Sydney FC Academy on this victory.