Pride’s test of Olympic proportions
AFTER their midweek success against New Zealand, Western Pride players face a new challenge this weekend - refocusing for a Sunday night home match against Olympic.
However, head coach Graham Harvey is confident his youth-laden football team will respond quickly to their next National Premier Leagues match.
"It's important for the boys as part of their development,'' Harvey said, pleased with how his team tackled their international mission and enjoyed the historic occasion.
"The New Zealand game has been and gone now.
"They have got to make sure that they are focused for the weekend.''
The match at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex is an unusual 7pm Sunday night clash, after the Western Pride under 20 and women's sides play in the afternoon following a series of junior games.
Harvey was more concerned about goalkeeper Duncan Short than playing so late in the weekend.
Short was treated by ambulance staff at Wednesday night's game and later went to hospital for a check-up after a head clash with a New Zealand player late in the first half.
Harvey immediately replaced his number one goalie with promising teenager Dylan Williams, who did a fine job in the second half only conceding one goal.
Short will be rested on Sunday night and possibly next weekend as a precaution.
Western Pride also lost their captain Jesse Rigby to another clash in the match played at a quicker pace than the NPL players are used to.
However, Harvey was confident Rigby will be right to play on Sunday night.
"The standard of opposition on Wednesday night were a bit sharper so you're probably more at risk,'' he said.
The Pride players handled the higher level contest exceptionally well in the 2-0 loss to the New Zealand national team, with Joe Duckworth and Hayden Mchenery among the home team's best.
Defender Alistair Wallis was another standout.
"We were very happy with our performance,'' Harvey said.
After the match, Pride speedster Nielen Brown appreciated the New Zealand players asking where they were on the NPL ladder (eighth with three wins, two draws and five losses).
"We said we weren't where we would like to be, and they were surprised,'' Brown said.
"Honestly, I thought we played really well and if we can keep this form up in the game against Olympic, we'll do really well.''
Defender Joel Haack agreed.
"We thought it was going to be a very hard game and it was but we stuck it to them a fair bit,'' Haack said.
"We played around them at times.
"We played our game, doing what we should and what we are capable of.
"Doing that, we showed teams that we can play football. Hopefully we can take that into the game this weekend.''
However, after 11th placed Olympic brought in new coach Terry Kirkham, Harvey warned his players to be ready for another tough match.
"Terry is really experienced in and around football so I'm sure he will certainly improve Olympic,'' he said.
Olympic have been one of the powerful NPL teams in recent seasons, keen to rebuild their status under Kirkham's control.
In other weekend matches, all regional teams are playing away.
Western Spirit have a virtual top of the table clash with The Gap on Saturday night, after the Ipswich City Bulls tackle Acacia Ridge.
The Ipswich Knights are looking to rebuild their Brisbane Premier League campaign with a win against Albany Creek on Saturday night.
NPL: Sunday (7pm) - Western Pride v Olympic at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
Women's NPL: Sunday (5pm) - Western Pride v SW Qld at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
BPL: Saturday (6pm) - Ipswich Knights v Albany Creek at Wolter Park.
CL2: Saturday (5pm) - Ipswich City v Acacia Ridge at Ron Proud Field. 6pm: Western Spirit v The Gap at Walton Bridge Reserve.