Derby delight: How the Bulls charged to historic victory
"THERE'S nothing better than winning a derby''.
Just ask delighted Ipswich City midfielder Jay Kitching after the Bulls surprised Ripley Valley 3-1 in the historic Capital League 1 encounter between the regional sides.
Bulls coach Norbert Duga rated the victory the best he had seen in many years at Sutton Park.
"One hundred per cent. That's one I didn't want to lose today,'' Duga said.
It was the first time the Ipswich City Bulls and Ripley Valley clashed in the Football Brisbane Capital League 1 competition.
New leader Kitching summed up the satisfaction after regular captain Joel Munn injured his hamstring following City's previous 8-1 loss to Pine Hills at the same ground.
"It felt real good,'' said loyal Ipswich footballer Kitching, who has played in more than a dozen derbies.
"I haven't felt like this for a long time. It was a great win.''
What a difference a week makes in football.
It was the Bulls first victory of the 2021 season after losing 6-2 to Moggill, 4-2 to North Pine and 8-1 to Pine Hills just a week earlier.
But City's latest performance was like the Bulls of old - tenacious, resolute and with true local derby spirit.
City's defence was superb, shutting down countless Ripley Valley raids.
The visiting team's only goal came late in the game when Madison Elrick clipped a ball past hardworking Bulls goalkeeper Brent Witney.
The damage had been done after Bulls striker Michael Ward scored early to put Ripley Valley on the back foot.
With Ripley Valley's radar off target, the Bulls capitalised after halftime when Sam Chesterfield seized on some terrific lead-up work by Zygan Condie to put his team 2-0 up.
Ward, also returning to the side, sealed the victory with his second goal off a free kick.
As if losing Munn before the game wasn't enough, Bulls regular Jimmy Allison was stretchered off the field with an injured right knee.
He could be out for the season, joining Munn on the sidelines for an extended period.
Yet the Bulls kept charging ahead with Ronan Geoghegan and the ever dependable Ryan Velasquez anchoring the defence. It was Geoghegan's first full game back in the top side after being away with work commitments.
"It was good to have someone like Ronan come in and just that little bit of leadership and organisation at the back that he brings is something that we've been lacking,'' Duga said.
Geoghegan and Velasquez provided a brick wall of defence supported by Quentin Dodd and Scott McDonald.
Seasoned club players Kitching, Condie and Lincoln Rule also stepped up after sharing in the Bulls previous lesson from Pine Hills.
"It was the local derby,'' Kitching said, explaining the added motivation.
"We had Zygs (Condie) back, we had Ronan back. The boys just dug real deep tonight.
"Everyone played so good. It's the best we played all year.
"We deserved to win.''
The determination was etched in their faces along with coach Duga who got more involved himself standing on the sideline rather than sitting and watching.
The Bulls had more purpose, like successful sides of the past.
"That's 100 per cent what we talked about and 100 per cent what we did,'' Duga said.
"We didn't come to training this week to work on anything technical. We just came to training this week to get together, work hard for each other and go out there with some sort of belief that we can turn it around.
"I'm really pleased.''
The Bulls coach hoped the victory was a turning point after City secured their first point of the season.
"I said to the boys before the game that this could really kickstart our season. It's something that we need,'' he said.
"But if we don't back it up then it's a waste of time. The boys need to back it up by making sure they come to training on Tuesday and put in at training just like they did tonight.''
Kitching agreed. "It took a local derby for us to do that,'' he said.
The match also reinvigorated the local derbies with Ripley Valley joining the Bulls, Western Spirit, Western Pride and Ipswich Knights in regular football contests having added importance.
It was Ripley Valley's second loss of the season having beaten New Farm United 4-1 first-up and going down 2-0 to Annerley before Easter.
The earlier Reserve Grade match on Friday night fittingly ended in a 1-1 draw.
"Not just in the first team but in Reserve Grade, there was probably a lot of Western Spirit players there so some of that derby feeling was there a lot more,'' Duga said.
Ripley Valley had previously drawn with New Farm United and beaten Annerley 3-2.
The Ipswich City teams play AC Carina away next Sunday afternoon.
Ripley Valley are also away, keen to bounce back against North Pine on the same day.
STATE OF PLAY
CL1 local derby: Ipswich City Bulls 3 (Michael Ward 2, Sam Chesterfield) def Ripley Valley 1 (Madison Elrick) at Sutton Park.
Reserves: Ipswich City 1 (Lachlan Bilyj) drew Ripley Valley 1 (Nathan Gee).