Western Pride's Hayden Mchenery was named in the NPL team of the year.
Western Pride's Hayden Mchenery was named in the NPL team of the year. Chris Simpson

Lasagne and chips to boost appetite for grand final glory

HAVING a Friday night feed of lasagne and chips is one way the Western Pride players maintain a familiar routine heading into match day.

After their usual conditioning work on Tuesday and an ice bath on Thursday, the players enjoy their end of week treat at the club to complete their match planning.

For head coach Graham Harvey, such a pattern of preparation is important as his team takes on Moreton Bay United in Saturday night's first state league grand final for the Ipswich-based club.

"We're all fully fit,'' Harvey said on the eve of the historic contest at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.

The Western Pride side received an extra boost this week with goal-scoring ace Dylan Wenzel-Halls and fearless defender Hayden Mchenery named in the NPL competition's team of the year.

But while those rewards for consistency were appreciated, Harvey said his focus was helping all the players treat Saturday night's grand final "like another game''.

"It's another step in their development and their journey,'' he said.

With grand final excitement building all week around Ipswich, Harvey said his team had plenty to keep their minds on the job knowing Moreton Bay United have peaked in a similar way to Pride.

"They've had a great run (six wins in a row),'' Harvey said.

"They've beaten the Gold Coast, just like ourselves . . . and to go to Perry Park and beat the Brisbane Strikers (3-1) away from home (in the semi-final) was a really good achievement.

"They are going to be a real threat to us and they probably go into the game favourites.''

However, the prospect of playing big guns does little to rattle the current group of skilful Western Pride players.

Pride's 3-0 semi-final win over Gold Coast last weekend was an impressive performance under pressure.

While acknowledging making a grand final was a reward for Pride's coaching staff and his players, Harvey said the biggest success was seeing the club's progress over the past three years.

"For me, it's just a nice tick in the box to see the boys develop,'' the English-bred mentor said.

"The whole idea behind what we've done at the club was to give these boys opportunities in football. Get them to the final and hopefully it gives them a stage for people to look at from higher up in the game and go: 'we now see that these boys are experienced'.

"They've had an opportunity to play in finals' football and to play under pressure and maybe they are worth a chance higher up.''

Former Western Spirit and Western Pride talent Corey Lucas is part of the Moreton Bay United squad which also qualified for the mouth-watering contest in Ipswich.

"It's a good opportunity for him. It's another big club in the NPL,'' Harvey said.

"As a young footballer it will be nice for him to play in those big games. I wish him all the best but not too much.''

Game day

NPL Queensland grand final: Saturday (7pm): Western Pride (3) v Moreton Bay United (4) at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex, Flinders View.

Curtainraiser: CL2 semi-final (3pm) - Ipswich City Bulls (3) v Annerley (4).

Gates open at 1.30pm.

How Western Pride made the grand final: Finished the season in third place with 12 wins, five draws and five losses. Pride was the highest goal-scoring team with 73 in the regular season. Leaders Brisbane Strikers scored 68. Pride conceded 27 goals for a goal difference of 46.

Moreton Bay United finished the season in fourth place with 12 wins, five draws and five losses. They had an inferior goal difference of 22, having scored 49 goals and conceded 22. Moreton Bay United beat Brisbane Strikers 3-1 in last weekend's semi-final.

Previous clashes: April 4 - 0-0 at Wolter Park. August 8: Western Pride def Moreton Bay United 4-0 at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.



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