Clean- sheet Ryan is hoping for a fairytale finish
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.’’