Gold Coast United win over local fans
Colourful coach Miron Bleiberg has claimed Gold Coast United would have won last season’s championship if they enjoyed the home support which lifted the A-League sleepers to a 5-1 rout of Newcastle.
Fourth-placed United did all they could to spark a turnaround in embarrassing attendance figures at Skilled Park on Saturday night by piling on the goals against the undermanned Jets in front of a record crowd of 14,783.
Instead of empty stands, and a roll-up of 2000, the Coast locals responded to club owner Clive Palmer’s generous fund-raising flood relief act of throwing the gates open to more than half fill the stadium.
Reborn striker Bruce Djite was the star of the show with a powerful hat-trick while Ivorian youngster Adama Traore produced a classic ninth-minute strike which immediately grabbed the attention of uninitiated fans.
“I think it was very important that we saved this 5-1 for this occasion when we had a lot of people who were coming for the first or second time,” said Bleiberg.
“It was a type of show that would leave a good taste with everybody who came to our beautiful game.
“If we had the same crowd for every game last year we would have been the champions.”
Following a ding-dong battle with eventual grand finalists Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory, Gold Coast ultimately finished the 2009-10 premiership in third place and were subsequently knocked out in the finals by sixth-paced Newcastle.
Skipper Michael Thwaite said the crowd had a “massive” impact on his troops, who showed little mercy to pay back a Jets line-up missing six regular starters, including five key men.
But while all was rosy in the stands, the rock-hard and patchy Skilled Park surface remained a controversial talking point, especially with competition pacesetters Brisbane Roar to play two rescheduled matches there this week.
The Roar, seven points ahead of Adelaide and Central Coast (46), who have a four-point break on the Coast, play Wellington on Wednesday and then Melbourne Heart on Saturday.
“I think it will be a bad surprise for (Brisbane),” Bleiberg said.
“If they struggle they will see how we feel all year.
“It’s a good test for them and we will see.”
So worried about the Robina surface was Newcastle coach Branko Culina that he said the Jets’ only positive from Saturday night’s humiliation was the fact they “no longer have the worst pitch in the league”.
“We have to be careful for the sake of players welfare that they don’t play on concrete pitches like that.”
Culina admitted the loss mentally “scarred” his young seventh-placed side which desperately needs to bounce back against the odds away to Wellington next weekend to stay legitimate finals contenders.© AAP 2013
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