A crushing cup loss could be the turning point in a season that leads Inglewood United all the way to a PlayStation 4 NPL WA title.
At least that’s the hope of coach Taki Nicolaidis, whose team is unbeaten in five games since a 9-2 Cool Ridge Cup semi-final defeat to Floreat Athena that led to some deep soul searching.
“We got thumped in the cup and we were disappointed,” said Nicolaidis, ahead of Saturday’s clash with fourth-placed Stirling Lions at Macedonia Park.
“It was a bad day at the office. But I said to the guys ‘we’ve still got a lot to play for – there’s still the NPL championship and a Top Four Cup to play for.’
“To get beat 9-2 then come out against Athena the following week and get a very good draw out of it helped turn things around. It gave us the belief that it was a one-off and we’ve moved forward.”
Although the loss to Athena meant there will be no place in the July 23 showpiece at Dorrien Gardens for Inglewood, Nicolaidis is approaching the next six matches as a series of cup finals.
“With 18 points up for grabs and four, possibly five teams in the mix, you don’t want to be dropping points,” he said.
But he is wary of Stirling, particularly the threat provided by David Micevski and Teeboy Kamara.
“When they’re hot they’re hot and they’re hard to stop,” he said. “At the moment they’re five points behind us and if we win it’s eight points (difference). There are areas we can expose them but they have a lot of strengths as well.”
Inglewood will welcome back front men Kenny Keogh and Brian Woodall for the Stirling clash after they missed last weekend’s 4-4 draw with Cockburn City.
Saturday, July 16
Armadale v Bayswater City (Alfred Skeet Reserve, 3pm)
Perth SC v Balcatta (Dorrien Gardens, 3pm)
ECU Joondalup v Floreat Athena (ECU Football Stadium, 3pm)
Stirling Lions v Inglewood United (Macedonia Park, 3pm)
Sorrento v Cockburn City (Percy Doyle Reserve, 3pm)
Subiaco v Perth Glory (Rosalie Park, 3pm)