Club's cruel game: Footy team needs to strike a miracle
FOOTBALL: After enduring the cruellest defeat of his Western Pride career, stand-in skipper Nielen Brown was planning a miracle.
He knows his team has to beat Brisbane Strikers in their final National Premier Leagues match this weekend to have any chance of remaining in next year's state league competition.
After going down 3-1 to Brisbane City on Saturday night, Pride also need the Magpies Crusaders to lose their final encounter against Brisbane Roar to help the Ipswich senior team remain in the higher level.
Brown was part of Pride's 2017 side that won a historic grand final in only the club's fifth season in the NPL Queensland competition.
"I've been here for five, six years now, ups and downs but my only focus now is next week,'' the attacking midfielder said.
"We can't think what's happened in the past.
"Next week is the biggest game I'd say in the club's history and we have no option but to take points off Strikers. And that's our focus as a team.
"I believe if we keep doing what we are doing, we can go there and take points.''
However, Pride will need to convert its many chances to have any hope of upstaging the Strikers, who thumped the Magpies Crusaders 11-0 on Saturday night in Mackay.
Pride have to play the Strikers at Perry Park on Saturday night as the Crusaders tackle Brisbane Roar at the Knights ground at Bundamba.
In the story of their season, Pride could so easily have won their latest NPL match at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
Pride led 1-0 in the first half after Mustafa Jafari pounced on a superb cross from Kelton Scriggins.
However, a number of missed opportunities when Pride were on top ultimately proved costly.
From potentially being 3-0 ahead at halftime, Pride were dangerous again in the second half before the momentum swung City's way.
City equalised through a soft goal after the break, before going ahead in the 83rd minute when Pride goalkeeper Griffin Bambach was caught on the edge of his box and the City striker found an open goal.
That was a crucial moment after Bambach's flawless first half.
City's third goal came in the 90th minute, making the result look more flattering than it was given how many attacking chances Pride missed.
Unable to coach from the sideline due to a red card in Pride's 3-0 midweek loss to Gold Coast Knights, Pride mentor Terry Kirkham could only watch on.
"I can't believe that,'' he said as Brisbane City made the most of their opportunities while his side fell short on the final touch.
Brown agreed the match got away.
"I thought we had a bit better of the game for most of the game,'' he said.
"If maybe we took our chances it would have been a different story.''
After Pride's frustrating loss to the Knights in the catch-up match, Brown couldn't explain what happened on Saturday night.
"That's football,'' he said.
"It's been one of our biggest issues we've been trying to deal with all year. It's finding that little bit of concentration we seem to lack with 20, 15 minutes to go.
"That was the case on Wednesday as well against the Knights and unfortunately it was the same case tonight again.''
Brown stood in for regular captain Cam Crestani whose season is over as he serves a two-match suspension for accruing eight yellow cards.
"It's big shoes to fill . . . but there's 11 leaders out there and I just wear the arm band,'' Brown said.
He said having a full week to prepare for the Strikers game would help the relegation threatened Ipswich-based team.
"We'll take positives and negatives out of the game,'' Brown said.
"Work on the negatives through the week and then come back stronger next week.''
NPL: Brisbane City 3 def Western Pride 1 (Mustafa Jafari).