City needs late boost as Ripley retains top record
FRESH from another game that got away, Ipswich City Bulls midfielder Jay Kitching hasn't given up on his side making the all-important top six.
Under this year's revised Capital League 1 format, the leading six sides after the first 11 games will battle out for higher honours.
With one win, a draw and two losses, the Bulls have plenty of work ahead of them to consolidate their position in the upper echelon of the competition.
However, Kitching was upbeat despite City's latest 3-2 loss to The Lakes.
City were up 2-1 through a double by striker Sam Chesterfield before the home side snatched a late victory.
"It's starting to come together,'' Kitching said, having been with the Bulls for five years.
"We're getting a bit unlucky every now and then but I think we will have a good year.
"We have to make the top six and then we'll have a chance for promotion.''
Kitching has been playing in the midfield with another loyal Ipswich footballer Lincoln Rule.
"I'm feeling brilliant. I love it,'' Kitching, 27, said.
"I've got a few more years left in me.''
Kitching said the Bulls were up to the challenge in a wide-open competition.
"If you look at the ladder, everyone is beating everyone so anything can happen this year,'' he said.
The former Western Pride National Premier Leagues footballer said the CL1 standard in 2020 "might be a bit better this year''.
"Every team we've met so far is knocking it around really well,'' he said.
The Bulls cause has been hampered losing consistent goal scorer Trent Griffiths and captain Joel Munn to knee injuries.
Griffiths is out most likely for the season after a serious setback in a recent trial against Willowburn.
Munn has just undergone surgery, expecting to be sidelined for six weeks.
Kitching said the addition of Chesterfield and Mitch McLeod had helped the Bulls after such crucial losses.
"Mitch is a really good player. He'll score a lot of goals for us I reckon this year,'' Kitching said.
Experienced campaigner Ronan Geoghegan has taken over the captaincy.
Bulls head coach Norbert Duga said losing some players to injury and the COVID shutdown had made it tougher for the Bulls.
But he expected the gritty Bulls to continue pushing hard.
"I'm really happy with the way everyone is playing. We're just getting to that late edge of the game and just conceding,'' Duga said.
"It's something that we've got to try and fix.''
Ipswich City has a chance to do that in their next match against Annerley at Sutton Park on Saturday night.
While the Bulls are battling hard in CL1, Ripley Valley are getting the job done each week in their first season of Capital League 2 challenges.
With 10 first-team regulars unavailable for their latest game, Ripley Valley still kept a clean sheet for the third week in a row.
"We were very scrappy again,'' head coach Nick Paterson after his side's 1-0 win over Oxley United.
"We're are grinding out these results and not conceding goals so we've just got to keep taking the positives.
"We are yet to concede, which is the most pleasing thing for me as a coach. I always like to build the sides from the back.''
With Ripley's mounting injury toll, another encouraging sign is Ripley's depth.
"That's one thing we worked really hard on in the off-season,'' Paterson said. "Recruiting depth and it paid dividends on the weekend I suppose.''
While his team is yet to play any "champagne football'', Ripley Valley is holding its own as a CL2 newcomer.
Madison Elrick scored the only goal in Friday night's victory at Kippen Park.
Ripley Valley are away to Westside Grovely next Sunday.
STATE OF PLAY
CL1: The Lakes 3 def Ipswich City 2 (Sam Chesterfield 2). Reserves: Ipswich City 2 (Surafale Teshager, Harrison Milton) drew The Lakes 2.
CL2: Ripley Valley 1 (Madison Elrick) def Oxley United 0. Reserves: Ripley Valley drew Oxley United 2.