Check out Ipswich's exciting youth braced for finals glory
WHEN the Ipswich Knights under-18 football side tackle the competition pacesetters in a knockout semi-final on Saturday afternoon, they will have nothing to lose.
The Ipswich side has already enjoyed a productive Queensland Premier League season.
However, under the guidance of astute coach Danny Wilson, the Knights teenagers have played some consistent football that has them primed to challenge Logan in Saturday's QPL U18 semi-final at Cornubia Park.
Victory will lift the first of three Knights hopefuls into the grand final with the Ipswich club's senior and under-20 teams also contesting semi-finals this weekend.
Some of the under-18 players are in their third and fourth year at the club and most are Ipswich-based, continuing their football development.
"They are all a group of hard workers,'' Wilson said. "We've got some that have moved up from 16s.''
He said the senior players in the group, including footballers from Ipswich Grammar and St Edmund's, had done a fantastic job helping the newcomers work as a unit.
On Saturday though, Wilson's job is to keep his team focused, especially after their dramatic penalty shootout victory over Rochedale Rovers in last weekend's elimination final.
"It's making sure that they are all mentally prepared for the game,'' he said. "That's the big thing with these kids.
"It's okay to make mistakes but it's their action after the mistake which will dictate their journey in football. That's something we've worked very hard on.''
Wilson's squad of 17 had a pool session with the club's under-20 players on Tuesday night to help freshen up after their taxing game.
The Knights under 18s head into the semi-final having qualified fourth after winning 11 games and drawing one this season. Logan has only lost one of its 18 encounters, providing a stern challenge.
However, Wilson knows how Ipswich teams always thrive on being the underdogs.
"I've identified a couple of areas where we can certainly go at them,'' Wilson said.
"They are a very competent side but if our players play to their potential, we can certainly damage that in certain areas.''
The Knights under-18 side is being captained by Lachlan Ellis with Jordan Simpson as his vice-captain.
Simpson and the team's leading goal scorer Joshua Holden (14) are among the young brigade to have received valuable experience in the Knights under-20 combination tackling Rochedale in Sunday's semi-final.
Last week's U18 goal scorer Lewin Smart has also found the net regularly this season. The attacking midfielder typifies the ability in the side.
"Lewin's second half of the year has been very consistent,'' Wilson said.
"He's a fantastic kid . . . and when he applies himself, he gets good results.''
Wilson said warming up and doing drills with the under-20 and senior squad this season had helped his players.
He said most pleasing about his under-18 side was how they had improved, especially interacting with the better higher level players.
The Knights senior team is also pressing for a grand final spot in Saturday's semi-final against Sunshine Coast at Cornubia Park.
Club vice-president Wilson said having three teams finish in the top half of the QPL shows the club's consistency and dedication from the players and coaches.
QPL semi-final 1: Saturday (6pm) - Ipswich Knights v Sunshine Coast at Cornubia Park.
QPL U20 semi-final 2: Sunday (3pm) - Ipswich Knights v Rochedale at Teralba Park.
QPL U18 semi-final 1: Saturday (1pm) - Ipswich Knights v Logan at Cornubia Park.