Palm Beach Sharks coach Grae Piddick has praised his players following their maiden NPL Queensland Grand Final triumph last night.
Sharks defeated defending Champions Olympic FC 3-2 at their Mallawa Complex home ground to complete the Premiership-Championship double.
It was the second come-from-behind win for Sharks in this year’s NPL Queensland Finals, after turning around a half-time deficit against Brisbane Strikers in last week’s Semi-Final at the same venue.
Piddick said post-match that he couldn’t be prouder of his side and the result was a fair reflection on the entire NPL Queensland campaign.
“We finished the top of the league by a few points and it was just the icing on the cake tonight. To do it against Olympic, who did the double last year, was really satisfying,” Piddick explained.
“We had a bit of shaky start with some nerves, and we pretty much gave them a goal thinking the ball was out for a throw-in and we got punished there.”
“But we fought back strong and really we were the more dominant team, so we deserved to win.”
Chris Lucas proved the stand-out for the hosts – netting a first half brace after Sharks went behind early, before delivering the cross for Jack Boxell’s match winner late in the second half.
Piddick said it was just reward after the striker missed out on the Golden Boot title by a single goal in the regular season.
“I think if you asked him if he would rather be Golden Boot or a Premiership and Grand Final winner - he’ll take that any day of the week,” Piddick said.
“Chris scored two tonight and then set-up the third, so he’s had a cracking game.”
Piddick also praised Boxell’s timely contribution after he was called on to replace injured winger Daniel Dragicevic late in the second half.
“Jack’s been one of those guys who hasn’t started many games but he has played a lot of games off the bench and there was probably ten weeks where he couldn’t get into the squad,” Piddick explained.
“But he’s battled away, got himself in the team and he’s got the winning goal – I couldn’t be happier for him.”
He also pointed out that veteran defenders Karl Dodd and Kristian Rees were just as enthusiastic as the younger members of the squad in celebrating the Grand Final win.
“They’re like kids in a candy shop those two now they are back together and they are enjoying it just as much as the rest of them,” Piddick said with a smile.
The players and club staff and volunteers celebrated in the Sharks’ clubhouse after the win, but Piddick acknowledged that it will be back to business soon enough with two further blockbuster fixtures looming.
Sharks face Northern New South Wales club Weston Workers Bears in the National Premier Leagues Finals Series next weekend in Newcastle, before facing Victorian side South Springvale in the Westfield FFA Cup on the Gold Coast three days later.
“Obviously now we have a major issue with trying to back up with going to Newcastle on Saturday and playing in the cup on the Tuesday,” Piddick said.
“It will again be up to the guys like Jack Boxell and the fringe players to step up and help do the job,” he concluded.
Image courtesy of Alberto Perez/Football Queensland