Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold says the win is “still hard to fathom”. (AAP: Brendan Esposito)
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 Sydney Football 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 mark of 65 set by Ange Postecoglou’s brilliant 2010-11 Brisbane side, over a 30-game season.
“It’s still hard to fathom,” coach Graham Arnold said.
“Sixty-six points out of 81 — it’s crazy.
“It’s something that I believe, in my lifetime, I’ll never see again.”
On a level, the result against the Jets 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 swag of 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 of the goal to take his single-season goal tally to a career-high 11.
But as Arnold celebrates perhaps his greatest campaign as a coach, he will 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.
He was substituted and went straight up the tunnel for medical treatment and did not join teammates for their Premiers Plate presentation.
In the later game, Adelaide drew 2-2 with Western Sydney.