Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic says it will be easy to keep his players grounded despite their stunning start to the A-League season.
The Glory’s fairytale continued on Sunday when they scored a goal in the dying seconds of stoppage time to secure a dramatic 3-2 win over Central Coast.
The result propelled the Glory four points clear on top of the ladder, with Popovic’s charges tallying four wins and a draw from the opening five rounds.
The star-studded squad are one of the favourites to win the title, and are set to be further boosted by the return of former Socceroos defender Matthew Spiranovic in the coming weeks.
But Popovic is confident his players won’t get ahead of themselves.
“I think it’s quite easy,” Popovic said of the challenge of keeping everyone grounded. “They’re a very good group. They’re a pleasure to coach.
“A lot of these players are winners, and they were winners before I got here.”
Forward Chris Ikonomidis was the hero on Sunday.
Ikonomidis opened the scoring in the 12th minute, and had nerves of steel in stoppage time when he chested down Neil Kilkenny’s cross before calmly slotting home the winner.
“I think we underestimate how difficult it is to bring a ball down in injury time when you’re fatigued, and to have that composure to finish it so well,” Popovic said.
“It’s so easy to lean back and put the ball over the crossbar. But it just shows the signs of maturity that are coming with him.”
Central Coast remain on the bottom of the ladder with just two points to show from five games.
But coach Mike Mulvey said the loss to Perth was a major step forward from the recent 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Melbourne Victory.
Mulvey is adamant the results will soon come.
“There’s no relegation. We won’t finish bottom. We’re not going to lose hope,” Mulvey said.
“If we play the way we played [against Perth], we’re going to win more games than everyone else thinks.
“We won’t be looking at the table feeling sorry for ourselves.”
Melbourne Victory leapfrogged Sydney FC into second spot with a 2-1 win over the Sky Blues.
Brisbane striker Adam Taggart leads the golden boot race after his two-goal haul in the 2-0 win over Melbourne City took his season tally to five.
City coach Warren Joyce was heavily criticised for his decision to leave out superstar forward Bruno Fornaroli.
Joyce claims it was a tactical decision, but rumours are rife Fornaroli’s axing was because of concerns over his fitness standards.
Another major talking point of round five was the state of the Spotless Stadium pitch in Newcastle’s 2-0 win over the Wanderers.
Shards of plastic and loose nails were found on the pitch following a recent concert there, with Jets coach Ernie Merrick labelling it like a car park.