Image: Australian Sporting Photos
Phil Petrovski is hoping that Northcote City can finish a topsy-turvy 2016 season on a high by winning on Sunday and avoiding relegation.
Depending on other results, a win at Oakleigh Cannons would give City a considerable chance of climbing out of the bottom two and remaining in the NPL, while a draw or loss would spell the end.
“Everyone is buzzing. We’re all ready to go to war. Maybe it’s not so big a game for Oakleigh but it is for us. I think we’ve prepared well throughout the week in training,” the goalkeeper said.
“It’s been a rollercoaster of a season to say the least. Obviously we started poorly as a team but once Loza (Goran Lozanovski) came in things changed. It has been exciting and that’s something that he has instilled in us.”
“We never wrote ourselves off even after the Richmond loss which was quite disappointing. But to come back and beat Bentleigh who I think are by far the best side in the league was a big thing for us and for the club. Taking things on a weekly basis has been key in bringing things back and it’s turned out to be a blockbuster ending.”
Sitting two points behind both Bulleen Lions and Richmond SC, a win could see Hercules leapfrog either side if one of them lose. Finishing third-bottom would mean a relegation playoff against a side from NPL2, but avoiding this by finishing in 11th position is also still a possibility.
But Richmond’s 1-0 win over Bulleen on Monday night means that even a Northcote win does not ensure an escape from the drop zone.
“It would’ve been better if Bulleen won but it is what it is and we’re in the position we are today,” Petrovski said.
“If we win and results don’t go our way we know we’ve done our best and fought to the end. If results to go our way even better and we take that forward whether it’s finishing in the playoff spot or staying up outright.”
Lozanovski’s team makes the trip to Jack Edwards Reserve with Oakleigh sitting in fifth spot and looking to secure a home final.
“It might be a funny one considering they’re preparing for the finals. We looked at key players and their style of play but our main focus is ourselves and making sure that we play like we know we can. We proved it against Bentleigh.”
Petrovski’s own form has been been superb since regaining the number one shirt in recent weeks, with a string of breathtaking saves helping City to stay in the fight.
“As disappointing as not playing was, taking a step back leads towards better things going forward,” the 21-year-old stopper said.
“It wasn’t ideal but that little break made me realise how precious that position is. I think I’ve taken the opportunity with both hands and I’m pretty happy with my performances in the last few weeks. Hopefully I can replicate that this weekend.”