Shattered Western Sydney defender Scott Neville has revealed the secret to his stunning goal in Sunday’s Hyundai A-League Grand Final defeat to Adelaide United.
“I just closed my eyes and hit it,” said Neville on Monday, still coming to terms with his side’s 3-1 defeat to Adelaide United in the championship decider.
“My dad told me I have scored in every A-League season so far and if I didn’t score in this one I can’t come home in the off-season," he joked.
"I just closed my eyes and hit... [But] I’d trade it all to have a winner’s medal around my neck to be honest with you.”
Neville’s cracking strike just before the hour mark got the Wanderers back into the match after they trailed 2-0 at the break at a sold-out Adelaide Oval.
But Tony Popovic’s side was unable to go on with the fightback, a third grand final defeat in four years confirmed thanks to Pablo Sanchez’s goal in the final minute.
The Wanderers came through an emotional and energy-sapping 120 minutes in the Semi Final win over Brisbane seven days earlier but Neville denied that played a part in his side’s defeat.
The consistent right-back believes his side “didn’t turn up” in the first half and gave themselves too much work to do to peg the rampant Reds back.
“We weren’t sharp enough, we didn’t play our normal game and we went away from the structure that we are usually so used to playing,” said Neville when asked what went wrong.
“The second half we went back to our structures and you could see the strengths and the qualities in our team. But it was too little too late by that time.
“It’s devastating,” he added. “Everyone was so disappointed last night and even this morning seeing all the boys, to work so hard all season, come this far and not get the rewards, is really disappointing.”
Asked what the side learned from the agonising defeat, Neville said: “I haven’t learned anything yet. I’m pretty disappointed, it’s still fresh and the emotion hasn’t kicked in.
“Once we look at [the game] and realise what we could have done better as a collective group, we’ll analyse it and we’ll move forward next year and come back bigger and stronger.”
As hard as the defeat is to take, Neville was doing his best to take the positives in what has been a resurgent season from the Wanderers.
The club finished ninth last season but rebuilt the squad and remodelled their game and it almost delivered their maiden championship.
“To finish second in the league and come so close in the grand final, we just have to fine tune a few little things and we’ll be there next season again and next time hopefully we’ll go a bit further obviously,” the 27-year-old said.
“For me personally that’s two grand finals and two losses,” Neville added after playing in a losing grand final with Perth in 2012.“I really hope next season we can kick on with the job. If we can keep everyone together and continue this journey next year we’ll be an even stronger force than we were this year.”