Little between top contenders for title

LAST year’s star player was a one-horse race after the first half of the season, this year it’s anyone’s trophy.

After the first 11 rounds three points separates the top-five with Albury United’s Josh Mulcahy and Twin City captain Matt Gray equal leaders on 16 points.

Last year English import Dan Summers dominated both the star player (22 points) and golden boot (29 goals) midway through the season before going on to win both.

That trend in part has continued with international AWFA debutantes Gray and Wangaratta’s Elliott Jones among the leaders.

Twin City and former Melbourne City under-20 striker Zac Walker is 10 goals clear in the golden boot award with 11 rounds to go.

Mulcahy, who missed a large part of last year when he travelled through South America, has been a linchpin for United in the middle of the park.

His best finish in the past has been fifth and admits he hadn’t given the star player award much thought.

“It certainly doesn’t surprise me that Matt Gray is leading, he is pretty sharp, but I hadn’t given it much thought, to be honest I’ve been more concerned about cobbling together some team performances,” Mulcahy said.

“The first half of the season has been stop, start for us.

“We beat Boomers in the first round and haven’t had a decent win against a good team since.

“I think it is the culmination of a few factors, including injury, but we just haven’t had a steady line-up.”

Mulcahy said he hoped to build on his midfield partnership with ex-Boomer Sam Graetz.

“We grew up playing football in the central midfield role and we are hoping to get that going again — take advantage of that past experience,” he said.

“I don’t think anyone apart from Boomers and Twin City have a look at the league.

“Everyone else is in the same boat as us, preparing their game for finals and as we know from a couple of years ago when we came from fifth or sixth to win the cup — once you are in there you are a chance.

“On paper Twin City are unbeatable but having played against them I believe if we produce our best I’d back us to win.”