Beating painful setback, Mitch scores deserved goal
WESTERN Pride footballer Mitch Bird had every reason to celebrate his superbly struck goal with an added sense of satisfaction.
Returning from one of the most troublesome injuries in sport, the important team man made a valuable impact in Pride's latest 6-1 National Premier Leagues victory.
Bird's second half strike helped Ipswich's most successful 2018 football team claim another big scalp - that of the fast and skilful Brisbane Roar Youth side.
The defending state league grand final champions maintained their top two spot with another convincing display at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex fortress.
However, it was Bird's effort off the bench that provided another welcome boost for the rapidly progressing team.
Bird has been battling osteitis pubis since late last season.
The painful injury is an inflammation of the muscle in the pelvic region, a condition that can provide ongoing challenges for sportsmen and women who receive it.
"I was really happy to get back into it,'' Bird said after his pleasing performance on Saturday night.
"I'm still a bit unfit but we'll get there.''
Bird's 84th minute goal was his team's fifth for the night.
It provided a positive outcome for one of Pride's key men.
"I don't feel soreness anymore really,'' Bird said. "It's just training and stuff now.''
Bird, 23, joined Western Pride during the 2015 NPL season, playing four matches after coming from Redlands following a stint with the Ipswich Knights.
He featured in 21 matches in 2016 and 22 games last season before the osteo was diagnosed.
Clearly relieved to be back on the field, Bird appreciated support from Allsports Physiotherapy's Dan Muscat, who is providing professional medical attention to the Western Pride club this season.
"Dan has been really good,'' Bird said. "I usually see him every Thursday but I think I'm not seeing him anymore now.''
Bird said the treatment included a lot of strengthening work, building up to straight runs and back into regular training.
"I'd never really had a bad injury like this before,'' he said.
"It was about September when I still had a sore groin but then it kept getting worse.
"When I got it, I'd never really heard about it before.''
However, the Pride attacking midfielder received assurance that other footballers had suffered the same plight.
"It's feeling really good,'' Bird said, having come off the bench in his few appearances this season.
Pride head coach Graham Harvey was delighted to have Bird back in contention, along with other regular squad members Nielen Brown and Jacob Minett regaining their fitness.
Brown came on in the 68th minute, earning a run in his 50th game for the NPL club.
Minett was brought on in the 81st minute - after Bird - as Pride comfortably tamed the Roar.
Bird's goal came after record-breaker Dylan Wenzel-Halls earlier netted another double to boost his season tally to 22.
Defender Will McFarlane scored the first goal from a corner with a Fraser Hills header setting up Pride's 4-1 halftime advantage.
With a Brisbane Roar fan asking whether soccer had a mercy rule as he feared a second half onslaught, midfielder Adam Endean sweetly drove home the final goal.
While happy to have key players boosting his squad, Harvey was most pleased with the team's response to a new threat.
He said the youthful Roar team provided an extra challenge, equalizing early at 1-1.
"I was really impressed with the boys tonight,'' Harvey said.
"For the first 20 minutes - credit to the Roar - they caused us problems when they had the ball . . . with their wide players that we had not come across this year.
"It took us a little while to get used to it. But the thing that pleased me was how the boys on the field (led by the senior players) adjusted, and it worked.
"From my perspective as a coach, it's really nice to see another progression from the boys. They can start to spot problems in the game themselves and solve them.''
Unbeaten since their second game, Pride tackle Redlands United at Cleveland on Friday night before the next stage of the FFA Cup competition early next month.
Pride face Brisbane City at Newmarket on May 1, keen to progress in the national knockout series - like they are meeting every challenge in the NPL.
State of play
NPL: Western Pride 6 (Dylan Wenzel-Halls 2, Will McFarlane, Fraser Hills, Mitch Bird, Adam Endean) d Brisbane Roar Youth 1 (Kai Trewin).
Next match: Friday night (7pm) - Western Pride v Redlands at Cleveland.
NPL U20 men: Western Pride 4 (Bon- venture Thomas- Remijo, Jordan Manning, Jack Sharples, Aidan Norris) d Brisbane Roar Youth 1.