Pondeljak savours sweet taste of success

Joe Marston Medal winner Tom Pondeljak is delighted to have finally tasted the ultimate success at Hyundai A-League level after two Grand Final defeats, scoring the winner as Melbourne Victory triumphed on Saturday night at Telstra Dome.

Joe Marston Medal winner Tom Pondeljak is delighted to have finally tasted the ultimate success at Hyundai A-League level after two Grand Final defeats, scoring the winner as Melbourne Victory triumphed on Saturday night at Telstra Dome.

While he won three championships in the National Soccer League with Sydney Olympic, Melbourne Knights and Perth Glory, Pondeljak had been to the deciding game twice in three seasons with the Central Coast Mariners only to come up short.

But having returned to his native Victoria after being signed by the Victory ahead of their inaugural foray into the Asian Champions League earlier this year, Pondeljak has now made up for the disappointment of those two failed campaigns.

"I think I have been blessed and privileged to have been part of the experiences," Pondeljak said. "I have had seven grand finals now for four wins and obviously had the disappointment of previous grand finals and I wanted to put this one right."

"But it was a tough game tonight and I was the lucky one who scored but there was 15 blokes out there tonight that busted a gut to get us to where we were and I think we thoroughly enjoyed it."

Having been unable to break down Adelaide's defence in the first half despite having a one-man advantage after Cristiano's 10th-minute send-off, Pondeljak added that coach Ernie Merrick had urged him to be patient.

"Ernie said to stay wide and bide your time and opportunities will come and when they do try and make the most of them and it did come," he said. "Evan (Berger) made a great forceful run forward and back-heeled it for me and I ran across and tried to go for the corner."

"It was actually going straight for (team-mate) Carlos (Hernandez) but luckily he moved out of the way and did me a favour because him moving out of the way meant it caught (Adelaide keeper) Eugene (Galekovic) a little bit off guard and it went in the goal."

After experiencing the disappointment of missing the grand final two years ago through suspension and then watching on as his team-mates were thrashed 6-0, Matthew Kemp was struggling to come to terms with his achievement soon after the final whistle.

"Mate it's more of a relief than anything," Kemp said. "I feel dizzy, my head's just spinning, it's an amazing feeling. To miss it two years ago, that was tough, but I feel redeemed."

"I can't even explain, I'm a bit emotional and it just feels fantastic. All the hard work the boys have put in all year, it's all paid off."

Kemp also paid tribute to the Reds for the way they continued to fight hard throughout the contest despite firstly losing Cristiano and then also going behind on the scoreboard.

"I'd like to obviously mention Adelaide, they've been the best competitor all year, every time we play them, they put up a fight," he added. "It's always a tough game with Adelaide, they fight, even with a man down they didn't say die."

"They made it hard for us, hard to score with a man down and after that, after the man down it could've been over but they fought and they're a great opponent but unfortunately someone has to win and I'm glad it was us tonight."