Blackwood out to kick on after breaking A-League duck

Young striker George Blackwood said the faith Sydney FC coach and former Socceroo striker Graham Arnold had shown in him had done extraordinary things for his confidence.


Source: AAP

Blackwood said his aim now, after scoring his first A-League goal against Central Coast Mariners last weekend, was to keep repaying Arnold for his faith as the Sky Blues battle against the odds to try to make the finals.

Seventh-placed Sydney, which has gone nine straight games without a win in the domestic competition (five losses and four draws), face a tough round-25 game against Premier's Plate contenders Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Blackwood, 18, said the fact Arnold had started him in a crucial AFC Champions League game on the road against Pohang Steelers four days before the clash with Mariners gave him a massive boost. The youngster played 89 minutes in that game, which Sydney won 1-0.


He scored the first goal of the game against Central Coast, in the 11th minute, but after establishing a 2-0 lead Sydney gave up two late goals and were forced to go home with just one point from a 2-2 draw.

"'Arnie' has given me a lot of chances this year and he gave me another chance when we played in Korea and I was really grateful for that," Blackwood said.

"I thought I did reasonably well over there and then I got another chance  to start against Central Coast and I got a goal, so it was good to repay his faith a little bit. Hopefully I can get a lot more goals for him."

Blackwood made his A-League debut as a 17-year-old last season and played three games. Last week's game was his 12th of this season. Blackwood said Arnold and his coaching staff had constantly encouraged him to keep doing the work and the goals would come.

"I think the most important thing about being a striker is being confident," Blackwood said. "If you're not confident in front of goal it's a lot harder to score, so you try to be confident all the time - even when things aren't going your way. That's what I tried to do and eventually it paid off.

"There there were a lot of things Arnie was saying to me that gave me confidence the whole way through and the fact he continued to give me opportunities gave me confidence as well. Steve Corica and Andrew Clark have been great for me too.

"I always felt it was coming and that it was just a matter of time.

"Arnie was just saying 'keep going, keep practising shooting at training, keep working hard and it will eventually come' and it did come and I think now I can really build on my performance from last weekend and kick on from here.

"It was definitely a relief, scoring that goal. It was good to finally get a goal this season. I was just disappointed we couldn't get the win, but we move on to Saturday's game against Brisbane now."

Blackwood was well aware the result between sixth-placed Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers at AAMI Park on Friday night was going to affect Sydney's chances of making the finals either positively or negatively.

But at the end of the day it wouldn't change the fact they needed three points.

"We need to go out and win, regardless of what happens anywhere else," he said. "I don't think we should worry about the things we can't control, we should just worry about our game. We've got to focus on getting wins out of each of our last three matches. It's a must-win game against Roar."

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4 min read
Published 25 March 2016 at 3:23pm
By Greg Prichard