Connor's 'amazing' game typifies football character
FOOTBALL: Western Pride captain Cam Crestani praised defensive teammate Connor Maynard after the Ipswich side moved a step closer to fending off this season's relegation threat.
Pride beat Moreton Bay United 2-1 on Saturday night at Wolter Park after livewire attacking midfielder Zelfy Nazary converted two penalties.
However, in another committed team performance, the experienced Crestani was impressed how Ipswich Grammar School recruit Maynard stood tall next to him in only his second National Premier Leagues match.
"Connor was a standout,'' the former Brisbane Roar A-League player said.
"For a young kid to go and do what he did last night, speaks volumes at the club and him as a person.
"He typifies Western Pride and I can't fault him.
"He was amazing . . . the way he tackled and he commanded his area.''
Saturday night's win lifted Pride to 12th place on equal points with the Mackay Crusaders, who lost 7-0 to Pride's next opponents Lions.
With Pride (-27) having a superior goal difference to the Crusaders (-53), the Ipswich-based NPL team can now control their own destiny in moving clear of the relegation zone.
"We were good again,'' Crestani said, reflecting on his team's latest victory.
"We keep showing the improving signs. And we always said that it will come down to the last six weeks and that's what Terry (head coach Terry Kirkham) got us prepared for.
"We're going well and I couldn't be happier to be honest.''
After initially thinking Kelton Scriggins would have to sit out the game due an accrual of yellow cards, the dependable defender was cleared to play. That continued his unbeaten record of playing all but a handful of minutes for Pride this season.
Crestani, Maynard and Scriggins were joined in the backline again by Michael Morrow with Killian Flavin and Jacob Minett stabilising the midfield.
Moreton Bay's only goal came in the 62nd minute, giving Pride another opportunity to display their resilience under pressure.
"It was backs to the wall,'' said Crestani, who has been one of his team's most consistent and tenacious performers, especially coming back from mid-season arthroscopic surgery.
"We probably just thrive on it (tough games) a little bit more.''
Pride's forward thrust came from Afghanistan international Nazary, Anthony Sarramea, Mustafa Jafari and Alex Parsons, who was cleaned up twice.
Being felled in attacking situations yielded the 11th and 17th minute penalties.
Despite the speedster being in the proverbial wars, Crestani was delighted to see Parsons sticking to the task so well.
"He's continuing on an upward climb as well,'' Crestani said of the former Ipswich Grammar School student.
Saturday night's win followed a gritty 2-1 victory over sixth-placed Gold Coast United.
Moreton Bay were in 10th place heading into the latest game.
Pride's next match will test their recent progress.
Pride face the might of Lions at Richlands Stadium on Saturday night, feeling more confident about their prospects than in the first round where the lost 3-1 after scoring early.
"We're a different side now and anything can happen on the day really,'' Crestani said.
"We should be able to control our own destiny now.''
State of play
NPL: Western Pride 2 (Zelfy Nazary 2 penalties) def Moreton Bay United 1.
NPL women: Logan 8 def Western Pride 1 (Annaliese Campbell).