Brisbane Roar will face Sydney FC in a maiden Australia Cup final, after edging Melbourne Knights 1-0 on Sunday evening.
Thomas Waddingham continued his fine start to the campaign with his third goal of the Cup run so far, which proved to be the difference in-front of a solid crowd of 5,183 people at Knights Stadium.
The NPL Victoria opposition pushed and prodded, but didn’t have enough to peg back Ross Aloisi’s side, ending an incredible Cup run from Ben Cahn’s side.
It continues a perfect start to Aloisi’s tenure since taking over in the off-season, leading the club to the final on the first time of asking as Roar embark on a new era both on and off the field.
“It’s so positive for us this year,” Roar star Jay O’Shea told Network 10.
“Since he’s come in, Ross has been brilliant for us and the way we’re trying to play, he’s got so fit and there’s just a great buzz around the club again.
“To make it to a final just before the season starts. Couldn’t ask for much more.”
One of the players leading the charge on the field has been 18-year-old striker Waddingham, who has been a revelation during their Cup run, starting up front in each of their four games since penning a scholarship deal in August.
The teenager continues to mount a case to be Brisbane’s number one option up front this season, but faces competition from new signing Jonas Markovski – who made his club debut off the bench against Knights.
“He’s excellent. You should see him in training and his (Waddingham) finishing is unbelievable,” O’Shea said.
“He works his socks off and the standards that the older boys are getting the younger boys to do, Ross is driving us so hard. We’re so fit.
“He’s giving everyone the right information. Everyone knows their job, especially the young boys and that helps a lot.”
Standing in Roar’s way of a first piece of silverware since the 2013-14 Isuzu UTE A-League Championship is Sydney, who defeated Melbourne City 2-1 earlier in the day at AAMI Park.
Goals from Patrick Wood and Joe Lolley either side of half-time gave the Sky Blues the lead, before Jamie Maclaren pulled one back for City but it wasn’t enough to spark a late fightback for the home side.
It’s Sydney’s first trip to the final since 2018, having previously made it in back-to-back years in the two years preceding their last appearance in a Cup decider.
The final will take place on either October 7 or 8 at a yet to be determined venue. Football Australia will confirm the match details on Tuesday, September 26.
Cahn’s revolution comes to an end
Melbourne Knights’ season – on the other hand – comes to an end, after an incredible 12 month turnaround spearheaded by Ben Cahn.
The Englishman took Knights not only to their first Cup semi-final, but first NPL finals appearance since 2015, helping reinvigorate a sleeping giant of Australian football once more.
Cahn has been linked with a move to take over as head coach of the Central Coast Mariners and one of his star players Gian Albano gave him a huge endorsement post-game.
“He’s 100% ready,” Albano said about whether Cahn is ready to coach at A-Leagues level on Network 10.
“The commitment he’s shown to us. I mean, it’s flying in between here and Brisbane, he’s just had a kid. It’s amazing the commitment he has.”
Melbourne City 1-2 Sydney FC
Venue: AAMI Park
Melbourne Knights 0-1 Brisbane Roar
Venue: Knights Stadium