NPL rookie nets 'awesome' goal
NAILING a last-gasp penalty under pressure would excite just about any footballer eager to help their team.
But when it's your debut match in the National Premier Leagues competition, striking the back of the net is even sweeter.
Western Pride newcomer Corey Lucas experienced that sensation last night.
His beaming grin after the match highlighted the exhilaration that came with rescuing his 10-man side from a first round NPL defeat.
It was also reward for the former Western Spirit defender's hard work since linking with Pride last November.
Rated by coach Graham Harvey as a pre-season standout, Lucas showed why in his team's 1-1 draw with Sunshine Coast at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
After Pride toiled manfully with 10 players for more than 36 minutes, Lucas calmly stepped up to the spot and scored in injury time.
"It was a super game,'' Lucas said.
"It was awesome. It was what we expected but that's what we train for all pre-season.''
Lucas, 19, had previously played for Spirit and Ipswich Grammar School.
But the QUT education student was clearly delighted about his decision to broaden his football experience in the NPL state competition.
As a promising representative cricketer, Lucas has to decide what sporting path to take.
After last night's impressive NPL debut, he'll enjoy his football at least for the months ahead.
"This is by far the highest level I've played and it's been really good so far,'' Lucas said.
Harvey was pleased Lucas was able to produce an equaliser after Sunshine Coast's Japanese player Schoici Kishmizu scored after just five minutes.
"Right through our pre-season, he's been a standout,'' Harvey said.
"As we developed through our pre-season, he's really come to the fore and gets an opportunity to start in the NPL, which is great. It shows local clubs are doing a good job with players.''
Fearless Pride defender Joel Haack was sent off in the second half, allegedly for lashing out with his leg following a tangle between three players.
Haack's dismissal steeled the Pride team.
"Given the game situation and how it developed, a draw was probably about what we deserved,'' Harvey said.
"You could argue we were the better side even with 10 men. But taking something out of the game when you go down to 10 men, particularly when you are behind, it is a credit to the boys.''
Tough defender Alastair Wallis headed to the team's ice bath after the game. He left the field with a swollen ankle.
Striker Mitch Bird made some superb breaks almost resulting in goals.
After Nielen Brown was also dangerous, he was replaced by "impact'' players Joe Duckworth and Jordan Lambi. They similarly came close to scoring.
In last night's curtainraiser, Western Pride's under 18 side beat Sunshine Coast 6-3.
Salomon Lukonga scored four goals.