Spirit dealt another blow in controversial loss
WESTERN Spirit's troubled Capital League 1 season continued with a 2-1 loss to Brisbane Knights in the only regional men's game played on Friday night.
Inconsistent refereeing and the loss of more players hampered Spirit's bid for an elusive win.
However, back-to-back wins by the club's Reserve grade side have given coach Darren Hillier encouragement before he hands over the coaching reins at season's end.
Spirit's Reserves beat Brisbane Knights 5-0 on Friday night at Kippen Park after beating the same team a week earlier 4-1.
The return of experienced players like Nick Paterson and Stewart Drinkeld have helped stabilise playing numbers as Hillier works on building a more competitive top grade side.
In recent weeks, Spirit lost future coaching hopeful Josh Walton (knee) and suspended goalkeeper Braydon Hoffman (leaving). That came after players like Dan Liddy and Matt Taylor also left.
Tim Cassey and Jacob Wegener will also be away in coming weeks with other commitments.
However, Hillier remains focused on giving the remaining players more time to develop their talents.
"They're trying hard," he said.
"The game on Friday, we were by far the better team."
Hillier expressed concern about the standard of refereeing with Luke Christensen sent off before halftime and the Knights awarded a controversial penalty.
"The tackle on Josh Walton was disgraceful and the guy never even got a card and the tackle of Tim Cassey nearly left him without his manhood. That's how high it was," Hillier said, citing two examples.
"And the referee said it was a passionate challenge.
"I don't like doing that with the referees because they are out there trying their best, but some of the decisions we've had in three weeks have been absolutely disgusting.
"When you're out of luck, you're out of luck."
Hillier said the positive for the club was the work of Paterson and Drinkeld in attracting new players, including some from Ipswich Grammar's talented school program.
Gerard Sanfruentes scored Spirit's top grade goal on Friday night.
Other regional senior football matches scheduled for Friday night were called off. They included the National Premier League game between Western Pride and Palm Beach, and the Ipswich Knights' home game against Brisbane Force.