It’s the type of win that will put a target on Port United’s back.
Their 5-1 dismantling of the previously undefeated Coffs City United in Port Macquarie on Saturday should have the rest of the Coastal Premier League taking notice.
Adam Bruest’s men have only lost one game in their last seven fixtures to surge into third spot on the ladder.
They made a statement at Dixie Park with Matt Broderick, Eli Wade, Matt Bale and Josh Casey all banging in second-half goals to deliver the ladder-leaders’ first CPL loss of the year.
Lions coach Glen Williams took nothing away from his opponents, saying they deserved all three points.
“We had six regular first graders out, but I’m not going to use that as an excuse because that’s not fair and we’ve got plenty of depth,” he said.
“I could see they were hungry in everything they did and they didn’t let up. Even at 3-1, 4-1, 5-1 they were still trying to put more away and we dropped our bundle a touch.
“We lacked a little bit in pressure situations and didn’t turn it around like we normally do.”
The Port Macquarie side held a 1-0 lead at halftime following an Alex Douglas own-goal.
“We went into the sheds at 1-0 knowing we had to be a 90-minute football team, not a 30-minute or 45-minute football team and it all unfolded nicely,” Bruest said.
“Once we started hitting the back of the net they kept coming.”
Back-to-back frustrating draws against Southern United and Kempsey Saints a month ago are now all-but a fading memory.
“We’re finally put it all together. I think we’ve crossed that little hurdle and bit of a slump we had mid-season and now we’re hitting our straps,” Bruest said.
The Lions dominated large portions of the first half, but couldn’t convert their opportunities.
Bruest said the half-time break came at the perfect time after Coffs City were hammering the United goal.
“If they pitched one when they were hammering us (it might have been different),” he said.
“By the time I got them into the sheds to the time they left, we went from being negative back to positive and we started the second half clinically.”
There’s little doubt confidence levels are growing in a Port United side who have scored 14 goals in their last four matches.
But Bruest knows they have to do it again when it matters most.
“That type of win is definitely going to put a target on us in every game now we’ve taken out the champs, but that’s a good thing,” he said.
And while they still think a toap-two finish is possible, the coach wouldn’t be unhappy about a third-place finish.
“I don’t think you get too much of an advantage in the top two because you miss the first week of finals,” he said.
“It might be better for my squad to be playing all three semis right until the grand final, but that’s a fair way off.”