ONE STEP AHEAD: Dependable Western Pride defender Will McFarlane gets the better of Sunshine Coast opponent Jasper Melish in last weekend's 15-1 NPL victory at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
ONE STEP AHEAD: Dependable Western Pride defender Will McFarlane gets the better of Sunshine Coast opponent Jasper Melish in last weekend's 15-1 NPL victory at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex. Chris Simpson

Real test looms: From 15-1 record to facing mighty Lions

FOOTBALL: It only took a couple of sessions this week for the Western Pride players to reassess after their record victory and get back to business.

Having lined up for the Lions in the 2008 Brisbane Premier League season, head coach Graham Harvey has a valuable insight into the club's operation.

He knows his current players realise they have to switch back on quickly against one of the powerhouse clubs in Queensland on Saturday night.

"Everyone has come through quite well after last week,'' Harvey said preparing for the 6pm showdown at Richlands after watching his team dismantle Sunshine Coast 15-1 last weekend.

"It wasn't a particularly hard game in terms of workload for the players. We've had a pretty good run so far.'

"We move on pretty quick. The focus is coming straight back to Lions.''

The Lions were promoted to this season's revamped National Premier Leagues competition after being regular Brisbane Premier League champions in recent seasons.

"They have got a good young squad there and I know Moonie (head coach Warren Moon) has been working on building that squad for the last couple of years in preparation for the NPL,'' Harvey said.

"I think you have to be very respectful of what they've done and what they are building there.''

Pride have won three of their four opening games of the new season.

Lions have the same win-loss record having beaten Brisbane City 2-1, Brisbane Strikers 2-0 and Magpies Crusaders 1-0 with their only defeat to Olympic 1-0.

Olympic defeated Western Pride 3-2 when they met a few weeks ago at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.

Although on the same points with Lions, Pride are one spot higher in fourth by virtue of their superior goal-scoring tally, which was boosted by last Saturday night's incredible rout.

The Lions stadium has undergone a major renovation, enhancing the appeal of playing football there.

"I know the ground quite well,'' Harvey said.

"We were down there in pre-season as well, which was good for us to give our boys experience in the new facilities and they are very impressive to be fair.''

Equally important is that tonight's match will give defending NPL grand final champions Pride a clearer indication how their season is progressing.

"We've got a good run of really competitive fixtures now for the next couple of weeks so the boys can really focus and get down to business,'' Harvey said.

"The next three or four weeks will give us a fair idea now where we sit in terms of the competition and moving forward.''

Harvey is hoping Pride's unselfish play continues, highlighted by in-form striker Dylan Wenzel-Halls.

Although he scored a NPL Queensland record seven goals last weekend, Wenzel-Halls actively set up his teammates, especially in the second half.

"I think that's also helped as well,'' Wenzel-Halls said.

"With Joe (Duckworth), Andy (Pengelly) and myself up top, we've all scored throughout the season and personally Joe has put a couple across to me and I've returned the favour and the same with Andy.

"If there's an opportunity for someone else to score, we're always looking. It doesn't matter who scores out of the front few, as long as we are scoring.''

Wenzel-Halls provided a valuable insight into his team's recent attitude in NPL games.

"That's always positive,'' he said.

"If we can score in the first five, 10 minutes, we can really set the tempo and really defeats the other team.''

Pride's under 18 side play in the 4pm game on Saturday with the Ipswich club's under 20 men having their latest 7pm match at Lions Stadium on Monday night.

The Western Pride women travel to Wakerley Park for their Sunday night clash with Souths United, fresh from a tenacious 3-3 draw with Sunshine Coast.

Game day

NPL men: Saturday (6pm) - Western Pride v Lions at Lions Stadium, Richlands.

NPL women: Sunday (6pm) - Western Pride v Souths United at Wakerley Park.



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