Western Spirit, Bulls handle pressure in vital Cup wins
FOR Western Spirit, it was an early opportunity to display their fighting spirit.
For the Ipswich City Bulls, it was a chance to show how to handle pressure.
Both regional sides did that by recovering from halftime deficits to win their opening SEQ Round 2 FFA Cup matches on Sunday night.
Spirit came from 2-0 down against a physical Clairvaux side to win 4-3 at Clairvaux Mackillop College.
The Bulls also worked hard to overpower Slacks Creek 3-2 in their clash at Sutton Park.
Sam Chesterfield scored a double with Dane Grant also finding the net.
"Really happy with the result,'' head coach Norbert Duga said of his side preparing for this year's Capital League 1 season.
"It's always pleasing when you're down at halftime and the team can come out in the second half still confident and then turn around the result.''
The Bulls head to Buderim for their next round FFA Cup encounter.
The Bulls plan to complete their pre-season with a game against the Ipswich Knights the following weekend before the CL1 season kicks off.
"The performance last night was good in patches, a much improved second half but we still have a lot work to do,'' Duga said, "especially in stopping the opposition creating chances and putting us under a lot of pressure.''
After struggling early in their Cup opener, Western Spirit responded to a halftime rev-up by new coach Reqinald Yaqub to fire in four goals.
Yaqub used all 16 players in the game, encouraged by how his charges lifted after the halftime changes.
As they await their next FFA Cup opponent North Pine in two weeks, the Spirit players are continuing their preparations for their Brisbane Premier League debut this season.
For the Bulls, it's also time to settle into the demands of a new football season.
Ipswich City's top men's squads started training together in early January.
"We have most of the squad together now barring a few who have had longer term injuries or other commitments,'' Duga said.
Before their first-up FFA Cup win, the Bulls had a win, loss and draw in pre-season trials.
"We have had a lot of players trialling and getting to know each other which hasn't helped but we're slowly getting there,'' Duga said.
Duga said the club had retained a majority of last year's squad, losing quality players Mitchell McLeod and Nick Carson to Brisbane clubs.
"There are some new faces that have come in to the squad but overall I am happy with what we have to work with,'' the head coach said.
Duga is being assisted by loyal clubman Trent Abel, Jon Edwards and goalkeeper coach Rob Cleaver.
"Trent is a great support,'' Duga said.
"He's happy to help however he is needed.
"The players enjoy his passion for the club and for football. He picks up on a lot things I miss and that's down to his experience.
"You can learn a lot from someone like Trent.''
Edwards has come from Gatton FC, where he coached their first team for a number of years. "Jon brings fresh ideas, a new voice for the boys to listen to,'' Duga said.
"He's been running sessions that the players have really enjoyed.
"We're both looking forward to the year for sure.''
Cleaver is another important addition for the season ahead.
"The club hasn't had a dedicated goalkeeper coach for the seniors in a long time now so I am really happy with having Wormy around,'' Duga said.
"He brings a ton of experience in playing and coaching goalkeepers.
"I can actually see an improvement in the goalkeepers already in just a short few weeks which is a testament to them and Rob.''