Mitch Cooper’s first Hyundai A-League goal was for Gold Coast United against Central Coast Mariners on February 22 2012. His second was so nearly against the same club--this time for Newcastle Jets--almost three years to the day.
In the 38th minute of Saturday’s F3 Derby, Cooper let fly with a rasping right foot effort from the edge of the area.
His fierce shot struck the underside of the crossbar and fell to the ground, bouncing on the goal line--just--then back into the arms of grateful Central Coast custodian Liam Reddy.
Mere millimetres were all that separated Cooper from doubling his Hyundai A-League goalscoring tally and netting a memorable F3 Derby effort.
Cooper--who was born in Vanuatu and moved to Australia from New Zealand at the age of eight--has had an unfortunate run of injuries over the past two years, limiting his game time for the Jets first team.
So if anything, Cooper’s eye-catching performance against the Mariners highlighted his ability to provide an x-factor and influence matches for Phil Stubbins’ side as Hyundai A-League season ten winds to a close.
The more he plays, the more confident he’ll get, and the more impact he’s likely to have.
“I have done enough work behind the scenes to know that I am going out on the pitch confident in myself,” Cooper said in regards to his fitness.
“I would like to start this week against Sydney FC and build off last week. I want to bring my game to the table and the team.”
“It was a disappointing result in the end against Central Coast. At home in the derby, I think the game should have swung our way.”
“But I was proud of the boys again … we held our own.”
Cooper admitted that his initial reaction to his shot was that it went in, but acknowledged on Monday that on reflection the officials had made the right call.
“I actually went off and celebrated a bit early,” he said. “I just didn’t want to look back at the linesman … I was just hoping to hear that whistle [from the referee].”
“At the end of the day it wasn’t a goal, but it could have swung either way and I think that has been our luck this season.”
Cooper knows that as an attacking player, creating and scoring goals are paramount to his position in the team.
His Father knows it too, which is why he shares some sage advice with his boy before each match.
“For a player in my position I think it’s important to score goals, so that’s one of the big key factors that I have to focus on in my game,” he explained.
“Before every game my Dad says ‘when you come on just shoot’. If I am in that position I am going to back myself and that gives me a bit of confidence.”
“I have been making the runs and come closer and closer, so hopefully next week if I get the opportunity it might go my way,” he said.
Ahead of this Friday’s Newcastle Jets vs. Sydney FC match at Hunter Stadium, you can win one of five Newcastle Jets jerseys signed by the whole squad, including Cooper, by following the prompts at www.jointhejets.org.
Date: Friday 6 March
Match: Newcastle Jets vs. Sydney FC – Hyundai A-League 2014/15 Round 20
Venue: Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Tickets: Please click here
Television: Live on FOX SPORTS 505 & SBS ONE
Radio: Live on ABC Grandstand & 1233 ABC Newcastle
Twitter: Join the match conversation using #NEWvSYD #NTUA