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Pascoe Vale surges into NPL Victoria finals contention after great run


TEENAGE striker Jonathan Koutroulis is the toast of Pascoe Vale after he scored the winner in a vital match last Friday.

Moreland Leader News

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The 16-year-old’s 79th-minute strike, converted after a previous shot rebounded off the post, earned the team a 1-0 win against Avondale FC to lift it to fourth on the NPL Victoria ladder.
The result continues Paco’s terrific run of form which has seen it gather 19 of a possible 24 points from the past eight matches, elevating it to prime position to reach finals with only a handful of games remaining.

Pascoe Vale coach Vitale Ferrante said he was “extremely pleased” with the results, but noted the team had remained consistent throughout the year.

“The performances have been good, we’ve been solid and we’ve stuck to a game plan we’ve been working on all season,” he said.

“The boys have stuck to it and are reaping the rewards.”

Davey Van’t Schip is still the focal point for Paco, with the Dutch striker leading the Golden Boot tally with 14 goals for the season, but key to the team’s recent success has been greater reliance on others.

Skipper Joseph Youssef has chipped in with a couple of strikes, along with Matthew Lazarides and Philippe Bernabo-Madrid, who has scored twice in six matches since crossing mid-season from Port Melbourne Sharks.

“It is always pleasing as a team when you can share the goalscoring load,” Ferrante said.

“Other boys are popping up and scoring when required, which is why the last eight weeks have been so flourishing.”

Koutroulis, who has now scored twice in the past two rounds despite having only made his debut the week before, is deserving of his spot after registering 15 goals in 16 games for the club’s under-18 side.

“I can’t believe it, I’m speechless,” he told the club’s website.

“The team’s giving me chances and opportunities, the coach is giving me good opportunities and I’ve got to be here to finish them.”

Ferrante said giving youngsters first-team debuts was something the club prided itself in, but reinforced they all earned their spot.

“I don’t look at age for a reason for getting an opportunity, it is all based on performances,” he said.

“Johnno … is a striker and scores goals, but he works very hard and it’s our style of play that we’re aggressive in our pressure and work rate and Johnno does that very well.

“The opportunity arose, he gets his opportunity and he took it.”

While the team is in great form, a finals berth is still not guaranteed due to the close nature of the competition and with fixtures to come against top-two teams South Melbourne and Heidelberg United.

“Our aspirations are to finish in finals. The boys have put themselves in that situation now and it’s up to us to keep working hard and follow the game plan,” Ferrante said.

“What’s good from our point of view is that … our destiny is in our hands … and the boys are really relishing the challenge ahead.”

With Van’t Schip in top form, players like veteran Tomislav Milardovic, Matteo Ballan and Adrian Talarico have also impressed the coach, while mid-season signing Matt Hennessy has had an impact.

Pascoe Vale plays Heidelberg United on Sunday afternoon.

Updated 13:40 - 15 Oct 2017 by PASCOE VALE FOOTBALL CLUB

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