A-League premiers Sydney FC have amassed the greatest points tally in the competition’s history after a final-round 2-0 win over Newcastle on Saturday.
But it has come at a cost to the Sky Blues, after goal scorer and standout Milos Ninkovic limped off the Allianz Stadium pitch after a sliding tackle by Ben Kantarovski.
Ninkovic’s 56th-minute goal and skipper Alex Brosque’s 87th-minute effort took Sydney to 66 points from 27 games, one point more than the previous mark of 65 set by Ange Postecoglou’s brilliant 2010-11 Brisbane side over a 30-game season.
On a level, the result was unconvincing and even fortunate given Andrew Nabbout missed a first-half penalty that could have changed the course of the match.
Regardless, it was excellent timing that the most impressive of the club’s nine records fell on the night they lifted the Premiers Plate, Sydney’s first piece of silverware in seven seasons.
Brosque had equal cause for personal celebration after volleying David Carney’s header into the corner to take his single-season goal tally to a career-high 11.
As Graham Arnold celebrates perhaps one his greatest campaigns as a coach, he’ll no doubt be distracted by the physical state of his star Serbian playmaker ahead of his team’s semi-final in a fortnight’s time.
Ninkovic, favourite to win the Johnny Warren Medal, was sprawled on the turf and in visible pain as he was attended to by the club physio after Kantarovski’s challenge appeared to force him over on his ankle in the 72nd minute.
It was a reckless act by Kantarovski, who’d earlier made a superb last-ditch tackle to deny Ninkovic a shot from point-blank range and was a key part of the Jets’ desperate, deep-lying defence.
Ninkovic’s goal though was a class team effort after lead-up play by Bobo and Rhyan Grant allowed Filip Holosko to get past his marker and cross into the box for an easy tap-in.