Spirit's mission to stay ahead of Ipswich, win rising battle
FOOTBALL: Hanging on to fourth spot with one regular season game to go, Western Spirit have it all to play for at home on Saturday night.
Beat Samford Rangers at Kippen Park and Spirit can lock up a spot in this year's Capital League 1 finals.
End their recent run of encouraging form and Spirit could be overtaken by Annerley or the Ipswich City Bulls.
Having taken charge of Spirit's top team early in the season, David Coles is backing his Goodna-based side to accept Saturday night's home ground challenge.
"We've had a couple of mixed results but some good ones,'' Coles said.
"It took a while but we've started to bond a bit, which is good.
"We have a fair few new players this year and it took a while to get things going.''
Among Spirit's recent results have been beating Annerley 3-2, outclassing Carina 6-0 and drawing 1-1 with Moggill.
Spirit are currently on 35 points ahead of Annerley (34) and the Bulls (33).
"It's always nice to finish above Ipswich,'' Coles said, knowing that victory on Saturday night could end the Bulls' finals hopes.
Ipswich City have to beat New Farm away on Saturday night to have any chance of making the playoffs after Annerley's midweek win over North Star moved them ahead of the Bulls.
Coach Norbert Duga expected to field the same side that beat Mt Gravatt 2-0 last weekend.
"It was a bit tough to see Annerley get that result mid-week after not winning a game for eight weeks straight,'' Duga said.
"We need a fair bit of help now, but we can only do what we can and get the win and then see what happens.''
Annerley tackle Moggill in their away clash.
After Spirit finished third from the bottom of last year's CL1 table, Coles said his team was more settled and ready to play finals' football.
"We've got a few players back as well from injury and work assignments and that sort of thing,'' Coles said referring to key footballers like Corey Dunne and Josh Murphy.
"We're more settled in the front third now.
"Once we got to play three or four games with the same squad, that made a big difference.''
Francis Patricio has been Spirit's leading goal scorer this season, netting in "bursts of threes and fours''.
The captaincy has been shared by players like Dunne, Morlee Konneh and goalkeeper Jack Fuller.
Regular club players like Shane Carr, Andrew Jarrett and Andrew Muir have anchored the defence.
Saturday's Kippen Park game at 6pm is after the Spirit Reserves play their final game of the season.
"It's the last league game this week and hopefully three finals matches,'' Coles said.
Western Pride continue their bid to avoid relegation in Saturday night's National Premier Leagues match against Brisbane City at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
NPL: Saturday (7pm) - Western Pride v Brisbane City at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex. 5pm: Under-18 game.
CL1: Saturday (4pm) - Ipswich City v New Farm at New Farm. 6pm: Western Spirit v Samford at Kippen Park.
CL3: Saturday (6.30pm) - Springfield v Redcliffe at Woodcrest College.