The last few weeks have been a roller-coaster ride for Port Melbourne Sharks fans. The highs have included an excellent away win over League leader Bentleigh Greens, and a historic qualification for the FFA Cup Round of 32, followed just days later by a humbling 6-1 defeat at the hands of Heidelberg United in the most recent League round.
The defeat at Olympic Village was perhaps a stark reminder of the difference squad depth and experience can make. The Bergers have lost a few players to injury throughout the season, but have had the depth to maintain their challenge for the title.
For the Sharks, recovering from the midweek extra time FFA Cup thriller against the Moreland Zebras was always going to be a big ask and the Sharks’ second half fade out against the Bergers came as little surprise. Still, there’s much to be positive about this sixth-placed Sharks team which this week will host fifth-placed Green Gully.
When Sharks’ coach Adam Piddick was asked if the Sharks’ position on the ladder at the halfway point of the season is a fair indication of its performances, he said, “Yeah, I think so”.
“To be fair we probably could’ve got a couple of more points if we [had] made the right decision at the right time. I think we’re there for a reason. We’re working hard at training. We’re trying to apply ourselves, and we’re doing all the right things. Working hard, we’re playing a new style. We’re looking to build on that and hopefully keep improving,” Piddick told Neos Kosmos on the eve of the Bergers’ match when the Sharks were in fifth place.
When asked what he feels needs to improve for the Sharks to progress to the next level and challenge the top four teams, Piddick said, “We’ve got a very small squad. We need to be injury free to start with. I’m big on player loading and identifying all those types of areas where we can minimise the risk of injury. So we’re doing all the right things there. Obviously you need your fair share of luck. We’ve still got to keep pushing ourselves. We’re doing alright. We’re not fantastic at the moment, there [are] still areas we need to improve on. But the only way to do that is to work hard on the training park during the week.
“The good thing about this playing group is that they’re willing to do that, they’re willing to work hard. They’re all good mates, they all hang out with each other. There’s no big head in the dressing room. They know what underpins our playing style. That strong mentality. Everything’s about the team. It’s not about me. It’s not about the individual player. It’s not about the club. It’s about the team. And I think the boys are buying into that.”
As if to further illustrate the togetherness of the Port team, Piddick said he thinks they’re one of the only clubs aside from Heidelberg who haven’t lost a player in the window.
“So everyone’s really buying into it. Everyone’s really happy and working hard. If we do bring someone in (during the transfer window) it’s going to be the one who benefits the team,” he said.
While the Sharks are working hard to maintain a top six spot with the squad they have, Northcote City is trying hard to avoid slipping into a relegation battle. Currently sitting in 11th spot on the table, Northcote hosts 12th-placed Hume City in a crucial battle for three points on Saturday.
Northcote have been amongst the more active clubs in the transfer window announcing another couple of new signings and three departures following the recent signing of Jacob Eliopoulos.
Striker Amir Osmancevic joins from Pascoe Vale, whilst 19-year-old playmaker Austin Wong, formerly of Melbourne City NPL youth team, joins from Bulleen Lions.
The club also announced the departure of defenders Alberto Balta and George Stavridis as well as midfielder Andrew Doig during the week.
Oakleigh Cannons has also made new signings during the window announcing the arrival from South Melbourne of defensive midfielder Luke Pavlou and winger Andy Brennan.