Ben Kennedy was once again a shot-stopping sensation for the Central Coast on the weekend, claiming another clean sheet in the Mariners’ 1-0 win over Perth Glory.
That’s BK’s third match without a goal conceded, the second most of any keeper in the Hyundai A-League this season - ranking him equal with Melbourne City’s Eugene Galekovic, and just behind Sydney FC’s Andrew Redmayne.
Kennedy also boasts a save percentage of 82.4%, the highest in the Hyundai A-League for any goalkeeper who has made more than 10 saves.
“We work hard as a whole team.” Kennedy said. “The forwards work hard and they certainly help us out at the back with their work rate. It’s obviously nice to get a clean sheet, and if you get a clean sheet, then you’re half way to the win, so that’s what we’re aiming to do each week,” Kennedy said.
The Central Coast claimed a deserved victory on Sunday evening with a breathtaking second half goal. Danny De Silva’s astonishing run up the sideline from within enemy territory was capped off with a top-notch finish from recently returned striker Blake Powell. It was a triumphant moment that Kennedy attributes to the Mariners’ work ethic.
“Danny worked hard defensively, won the ball back in the midfield – he is a quality player so nothing like that is a surprise, he worked hard with a great run down the sideline, and Powelly did well to get himself in that position.
“That’s the spirit of the group, we are working hard to get ourselves in great positions on and off the ball, so it was a just reward for Powelly. It was a great run and all that hard work he has put in in the last few months has paid off,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy himself played a vital role in the victory, denying Mitch Nichols just before half-time with an outstretched leg that kept the scores deadlocked going into the break.
The veteran keeper debuted between the sticks in the A-League back in 2006, and spent over a decade with F3 Derby rivals, the Newcastle Jets. Moving south to sign for the Yellow and Navy this season has been a welcome change for BK, the opportunity to work with the Central Coast’s goalkeeping coach Matthew Nash a major draw for the shot-stopper.
“I’ve known Nashy quite a while,” Kennedy said. “We used to play together up in Newcastle, and we used to be roomies back in the day, so I have a good relationship with him. That was part of the reason I wanted to come here, to work with Nashy, and he’s taught me some things that I’ve never done before, and I’m all about learning new things.
“I think he’s had a massive impact on not just myself, but all the goalkeepers here. Look at Izzo, last year and the year before, he just kept getting better and better, and I think Nashy had a lot to do with that. All three of us here, we’re all better goalkeepers for training under Nashy,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy had high praise for the culture cultivated by the Central Coast, both in the squad and with the wider community – making special mention of super-fan Jake Banks, known by everyone as “Banksy”.
“Everyone is pretty close, it’s just a great community club to be a part of,” Kennedy said. “Banksy is here at least three times a week and he’s always winding the boys up, so it’s just a great vibe around the club. It’s a great culture, and a really great family feel.
“I’ve enjoyed the trip down. I was at Newcastle for 12 years, and then moved down here and it’s been great. I feel like a new person, a new player. I’ve loved every minute; the boys have been good and I’m just looking to improve each week.” Kennedy said.
The Central Coast have returned to a position in the top four, and are enjoying a two-game winning streak that Kennedy hopes will give them the edge in the upcoming away game against third-placed Melbourne City.
“It’s good to get the win, we’ve got a lot more confidence with two in a row,” Kennedy said. “We just take it game by game, so long as you keep doing that the rest will take care of itself. We’re just focused on one game at a time, but we got the win and another clean sheet.” Kennedy said.
With five wins under their belt this season, and a win over the Newcastle Jets on Saturday, Melbourne City will make for tough opposition. The Yellow and Navy will need to maintain the work ethic and focus that they’ve showcased so far.
“It will be a tough game down in Melbourne, they had a good win on the weekend as well so they will be confident, but we know if go down and play the way we want to play, then we have no one to fear, and we are confident heading down there.” Kennedy said.
“They’ve got some quality players up top, you can’t really single anyone out. They’re a good side and they’ve got good players all over the park so we’ll have to work hard, we know that if we do our jobs then the result will take care of itself.”
“We’re just excited to be in a position to go down there and get the three points,” Kennedy said.