Tolland striker Jaiden O’Brien is emerging as the front-runner for this year’s Pascoe Cup Player of the Year after enjoying a breakout season with the Wolves.
O’Brien’s unmistakable talent and energetic play has been a mainstay of the Tolland line up since 2016, but the Mount Austin High School product has taken his game to new heights this year.
The former midfielder was offered the strikers’ jersey under rookie coach Daniel Lawrence back in April and it’s been a goal fest ever since.
O’Brien, 19, kicked off the year with three in his first three starts and has since rocketed to the top of the Pascoe Cup goal scorers’ list with 22 in just 14 games, including a blistering double hat-trick against Young.
‘Jobi’ is now 10 goals clear of Lake Albert striker Fred Gardner and looks a shoe-in for the Pascoe Cup Team of the Year.
As it turns out, he’s probably the only one who hasn’t been surprised by the numbers.
“I’d actually been asking to be put up the front for a few years now,” O’Brien said.
“I was playing back at centre-mid and stayed there the past few seasons, but I finally got what I was after and it’s been going pretty well ever since.”
It would be cliched to say O’Brien’s form is directly linked to that of his team’s – but the stats don’t lie.
Tolland have a 66 per cent losing record when their star striker doesn’t find the net and his 22 goals make up 50 per cent of the Wolves’ cumulative total this season.
The numbers make him a prime target for Friday night’s table-topping clash between Tolland and minor premiership favourites Lake Albert at Rawlings Park.
The undefeated Sharks schooled Tolland 6-2 in their last encounter back in May, but Mitch Tinnock’s side should hold no fear for O’Brien – after all, he scored both goals in the loss.
“We’ve been training well and everyone’s pretty positive about it, so we’re looking good for the game,” he said.
“Hopefully we can go out there and knock them off their perch.”
Tolland and Lake Albert kick off at 8.30pm.
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