Clean- sheet Ryan is hop­ing for a fairy­tale fin­ish

Townsville Bulletin - - Football -

CEN­TRAL Coast goal­keeper Matthew Ryan is still pinch­ing him­self over his lat­est ac­co­lade as he eyes a fit­tingly fairy­tale fin­ish to his rookie A-League sea­son.

Named young player of the year on Sun­day night, 18-year-old Ryan is hop­ing to ex­tend his league­lead­ing 13 clean sheets in Sun­day’s g r a n d f i n a l a g a i n s t t h e a l l - con­quer­ing Bris­bane Roar.

But he ad­mit­ted yes­ter­day sea­son has al­ready pro­duced his far more than he could have dared to dream.

‘‘ I’m just over­whelmed, just so happy at the mo­ment, life’s pretty a wes o me, ’ ’ s a i d Ry a n o f h i s A-League award.

Handed his de­but in round four a f t e r r e g u l a r k e e p e r J e s s Vanstrat­tan was ruled out for the sea­son with in­jury, Ryan has not looked back.

His 13 clean sheets from 30 games i s one bet­ter t han Bris­bane’s Michael Theok­l­i­tos has achieved from 32 games and Gold Coast’s Glen Moss from 30. Ryan gives a lot of credit for that strong record to the de­fence struc­ture put in place by coach Graham Arnold.

‘‘ I wouldn’t be able to do it with­out the play­ers and Arnie and the way he set up the team, with get­ting the de­fen­sive struc­ture in place,’’ he said.

‘‘ We proved to be a pretty dif­fi­cult team to break down at times and that’s proven by the 14 clean sheets the team had as a whole.’’

Ryan recorded his lat­est clean sheet in im­pres­sive style, steal­ing the show in the week­end’s 1-0 pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal win against the Gold Coast with a sen­sa­tional dou­ble save.

‘‘ Yeah that was some game,’’ he said.

‘‘ The boys put in such a great ef­fort for the full 90 min­utes, I was just able to con­trib­ute when I was needed.’’

How­ever, one team Ryan has been un­able to man­age a clean sheet against is Bris­bane.

They’ve scored against him both times the teams have met – in­clud­ing a 5-1 drub­bing last Novem­ber.

Ryan says he won’t be tak­ing any mem­o­ries of that into the grand fi­nal.

‘‘ Ob­vi­ously I think there will be a lot of hype around the grand fi­nal, but I guess I just have to think of it as just an­other game.

‘‘ So Sun­day here we come. Hope­fully we can go one bet­ter that the Mariners have done in the past.’’

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