Article By Moreland Leader
PASCOE Vale’s title aspirations will be on the line this weekend when it tackles Oakleigh Cannons in a cutthroat National Premier League final.
The Rams finished fourth on the table, earning the right to host Oakleigh in the first week of NPL finals.
The teams clashed two weeks ago at Oakleigh’s Jack Edwards Reserve, when the Cannons prevailed 2-1.
Pascoe Vale captain Joseph Youssef said his side could not afford any lapses due to Oakleigh’s ability to score “out of nowhere”.
“It’s just more of a test for us being on our game,” Youssef said.
“We have got to be 100 per cent switched the whole time because that’s their danger.
“That one counter attack or that one ball they score a goal from. That’s the danger Oakleigh poses.”
The Rams triumphed 1-0 against Oakleigh earlier in the campaign, when they met in Round 12.
Victories over top-two sides Bentleigh Greens and Heidelberg United in the second half of 2018 franked Pascoe Vale’s title credentials.
But Youssef recognises there is no margin for error as his team tries to challenge for the title without the security of a double chance.
“Mentality-wise and experience-wise, I think it actually suits us better, finals,” he said.
“We’re a big-game sort of team. When the big games pop up, that’s when we really shine I think.”
Youssef pointed to the experience of former A-League midfielder Michael Ferrante and striker Davey van’t Schip, adding the club’s international signings would thrive under the blowtorch of finals.
The Rams have finished seventh in consecutive years, but went within 15 minutes of a grand final berth when they last reached finals in 2015.
Van’t Schip put Pascoe Vale in front during extra-time at Lakeside Stadium, only for South Melbourne to score twice to progress to the decider.
“That’s something we’ll definitely take into finals, knowing how quick things can turn around and having to be vigilant,” Youssef said.
The Rams finished the regular season with a 1-1 draw against Hume City on Sunday and will host Oakleigh at CB Smith Reserve on Friday from 7.30pm.
Updated 14:08 - 23 Oct 2018 by PASCOE VALE FOOTBALL CLUB