Ipswich team’s best Pride shows when conquering adversity
FEW moments are more satisfying as a captain than helping your team to victory through adversity and under relentless pressure.
Western Pride leader Nielen Brown perfectly summed up such a feeling, proud of how his 10-man side repelled Sunshine Coast Fire 1-0 in their latest Football Queensland Premier League joust.
"That was awesome, especially playing the last 25 (minutes) with 10 men,'' Brown said after sharing in one of Pride's most tenacious senior team wins.
"Three months ago, I don't think we would have been able to do that.
"So it's kind of testament to where we were and where we've come from.''
Fittingly, the gritty performance came on the same weekend three years after the Ipswich club's mightiest achievement - winning the National Premier Leagues grand final.
Although this year playing in a level below the NPL, Pride's latest victory at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex was immensely gratifying.
The Pride players tackled their hearts out for the final quarter of the match a man down after one of their best, centre back Ben Piper, was controversially red-carded.
Ever-reliable defender Kelton Scriggins had earlier broke the deadlock with a superb strike from out wide, 10 minutes into the second half.
Brown, 25, has been with Pride for six years.
Although he was recovering from injury during the 2017 grand final, he had contributed to the team's road to success.
"I feel kind of old being the only one left but it's good,'' he said. "Change doesn't have to be a bad thing.
"It's just about rebuilding and being a new team.
"We mentioned before the game it is important to recognise history and that night in 2017 was a massive night for the club and all the years since then has been building on that and trying to progress.
"I know we aren't in the NPL and where we want to be but I think we deserve to back there and that's what we are trying to do this year.''
The civil engineer is enjoying his senior role working with so much exciting developing talent.
"They are a massive part of this team,'' he said. "It's all good to have experienced boys but they (younger players) bring liveliness and youth to the team and we need them to be successful.''
Despite the blustery Saturday night conditions, the Pride players produced another brilliant defensive effort - a week after upstaging competition heavyweights Logan by the same score.
Piper was a standout before his unfortunate send-off, holding the defensive formation together alongside Scriggins and the dependable Rhys Webster.
With Piper off the field, Webster began cramping up but still managed a final surging run to get his team out of trouble in injury time as Sunshine Coast kept attacking with vigour.
"Rhysy and Benny are really starting to click together and we need them to be successful,'' Brown said. "Having two centre backs in this league is really important.''
Recently signed Pride goalkeeper Jace Hudson had a flawless game.
He made some crucial saves, including a low diving effort to his left in the first half when Sunshine Coast were in a dangerous mood.
Will Orford was tireless in the midfield along with Killian Flavin and Brown, who had an extra spring in his step leading the side with Adam Sawyer out injured.
"Adam should be back soon but I'm happy to step in and help,'' said Brown, who is also closing on Joe Duckworth's record of most senior team caps for the club.
"I'm loving it.
"It's not really about the number of games to be honest. I just like being here, part of the club . . . it's a big part of my life''
In the latest clash, Jacob Advaney added spark upfront when he came on and Japanese winger Nathan Yoon was a constant threat.
When Yoon regains his shooting radar, opposing goalkeepers will be in huge strife.
The former Ipswich Grammar School student praised his teammates for the way they stuck together securing two hard-fought results.
"After last week, they really started to click as a team,'' he said.
"Last week was important and tonight was just even better.''
As for first-year head coach Andrew Catton, Brown offered his support.
"He's class. He's been really good,'' Brown said.
"His training has been awesome too. He brings something different into the club that we haven't had the last couple of years.''
Brown said back-to-back victories have set up Pride well for a top four charge.
Pride face competition leaders South West Toowoomba at home against next Saturday night before a crucial midweek clash with third-placed Mitchelton.
"It's about the end goal, which is to be at the top,'' Brown said.
STATE OF PLAY
FQPL: Western Pride 1 (Kelton Scriggins) def Sunshine Coast 0.
U20: Western Pride def Sunshine Coast 3-2.
U18: Western Pride 4 (Walter Nininahazwe 2, Patient Lukonga, Mibaraka Ruhirika) def Sunshine Coast 0.