Western Pride goal scorer Andrew Pengelly (number 18) gets heavily involved in the NPL season opener against Brisbane Strikers.
Western Pride goal scorer Andrew Pengelly (number 18) gets heavily involved in the NPL season opener against Brisbane Strikers. Kleur Photography/Brisbane Strik

Andy's golden boot lifts football confidence

WHEN last year's golden boot winner Andrew Pengelly was given his first opportunity at Western Pride, he was mainly a midfielder.

Fast forward a couple of seasons and the former Ipswich Grammar School student has scored 33 goals in under 20 competition and netted his first National Premier Leagues senior side goal to kickstart a promising season.

Continuing to play a more attacking role for head coach Graham Harvey, Pengelly scored the equaliser in Pride's 2-1 victory over Brisbane Strikers last weekend.

But as a young man keen to do what's required, Pengelly was modest about his impressive strike that carried on his under-20 form.

"It was a good team goal,'' he said, thrilled to be playing in the top level NPL competition.

"Scoring goals is always nice but it's nice when the team wins as well.

"It gives me a bit of confidence for the season.''

Pride's goal-scoring ace Dylan Wenzel-Halls completed the mission at Perry Park last weekend to give defending NPL champions Pride a positive start to their 2018 campaign.

Preparing for Pride's first home game of the new season on Saturday night, Pengelly is eager to see what the Ipswich-based team can achieve against tenacious rivals Olympic.

"It's another big game, which will be another test I guess,'' Pengelly said, aware of Olympic's good winning record against Pride.

"They are a good side going around.

"It's our first game of the season so I'm pretty excited for it.''

Last season, the former Lions and UQ midfielder nailed seven hat-tricks - including four in a row mid-year - during his 33-goal Golden Boot performance for the Pride under 20s.

He scored four goals on three occasions - against Redlands United, Moreton United and SW Queensland.

He was the top scorer in the NPL under 20 competition and it was the first time he won such an award having come through juniors as a midfielder.

"I just ended up front and it's been good. I've enjoyed it,'' Pengelly said.

Aged 20, the Brisbane- bred footballer has been able to make a smooth transition into the NPL top side after joining Pride in 2016.

"It's been easy for me to come in because everyone is great mates,'' he said of the youth-laden Pride squad.

"We're all around the same age anyway so the boys have been good.''

Having played previously with former IGS teammates like Joe Duckworth has also helped Pengelly settle quickly into his senior role as a striker.

Pengelly graduated in 2014 with Duckworth, who has become Pride's most capped NPL player (68 games).

Enjoying tennis for fun, Pengelly is in his second year studying commerce at the University of Queensland.

Harvey is pleased to see the new attacking option becoming one of the club's latest under 18 or under 20 talents to play higher level football.

"He's had a good pre-season and he's made the step up well,'' Harvey said.

"To score at the weekend was good for him so happy that he's progressing so far.''

Keen to build on Western Pride's early progress, Harvey was monitoring two key players.

Attacking midfielder Jacob Minett is likely to be out for at least six weeks after tearing an ankle ligament in last Saturday's NPL victory over the Strikers.

Winger Mitchell Bird is managing osteitis pubis after missing the pre-season following Pride's trip to Japan.

While disappointed to lose Minett, Harvey was hopeful Bird could return soon to the side he played an important role in during Pride's gallant run to grand final glory.

Harvey was encouraged by Pride's under 20 and under 18 teams in their season openers against the Strikers.

The under 18 outfit drew 1-1 last Sunday. Pride's under 20s won 1-0 on Monday night.

Pride's NPL women also won their first clash 6-3 over SWQ Thunder to give club coaches and players an early boost.

The Pride women tackle Mudgeeraba at 5pm in their match at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex on Saturday afternoon.

The NPL men's encounter is at 7pm.

Game day

NPL men: Saturday (7pm) - Western Pride v Olympic at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.

NPL women: Saturday (5pm) - Western Pride v Mudgeeraba at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.

FQPL: Saturday (6pm) - Ipswich Knights v Holland Park at Whites Hill Reserve.