Pre-season prediction: Fourth
Position: Seventh (3 wins, 2 draws, 11 losses, -34 goal difference)
In short: It was always going to be tough for the 2012 GDFA champions to back up in a season that saw three RPL-level sides return to the fold ... and it was. Juniors were locked in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon for most of the year and for the most part, couldn’t reproduce the kind of football that had previously brought them glory.
What went right: Hanwood Juniors’ second half of the season was a significant improvement on the first, mostly thanks to defence. The team kept all three of its clean sheets in the last nine games and were solid performers even in the losses, save perhaps for the 5-1 final round defeat to Leeton.
What went wrong: The title defence was pretty much off the rails from day dot. For a side that prides itself on its ability to grind out results and frustrate other teams into submission, 23 goals conceded in the first five games is a fair whack, and Juniors never truly recovered from there. Didn’t help that they had the second-worse attacking record in the comp, either.
Best win: In round 10, Juniors put a huge – and unexpected – dent into Griffith City’s finals charge with a 1-0 win that probably ranks as the side’s best result for the year. The other two wins were against teams below them on the ladder and far less impressive than this victory, sealed by an Anthony Papandrea goal.
Worst loss: Three-way tie. The big three – Hanwood FC, Yoogali SC and Yoogali FC – each gave Juniors a hiding in the first round with 7-0, 7-1 and 6-1 wins respectively.
Best player: Hard to pick in a team that is better as a whole than the sum of its parts, but captain Kyle Favero was again the general in defence and kept things ticking over nicely on the pitch.
Leading goalscorer: Anthony Papandrea, Joe Crisafulli and Matthew Napoli share the honour with two goals each. Together, they accounted for nearly half of Hanwood Juniors’ total goals scored for the season.
Moving forward: If Juniors really wanted to be a title threat then a few quality imports are a must. But this seems to be a group that’s pretty happy to stick together and stick it out as one. Don’t expect a huge amount of change.
Grade: C-. From grand final winners to being arguably lucky to have dodged the wooden spoon, it’s been a year to forget for Hanwood Juniors.