DESERVED REWARD: Western Pride players celebrate Michael Morrow's goal in the second half of Saturday night's NPL clash with South West Queensland Thunder in Toowoomba. Pride secured their first win of the new season.
DESERVED REWARD: Western Pride players celebrate Michael Morrow's goal in the second half of Saturday night's NPL clash with South West Queensland Thunder in Toowoomba. Pride secured their first win of the new season. Kevin Farmer

Fantastic finish gives Pride massive boost

FOOTBALL: Canadian import Patrick Izett, sharpshooter Michael Morrow and man on the spot Chris Anderson highlighted why Western Pride will be even more dangerous when they get more game time under their proverbial belts.

The goal-scoring trio played key roles in Pride's first win of the 2019 Queensland National Premier Leagues season.

After a number of narrow losses, the Pride contingent looked more settled in the second half as they overpowered South West Queensland Thunder 4-2 in Toowoomba.

Head coach Terry Kirkham was delighted to see key players like classy striker Izett contributing after a disrupted pre-season.

Izett netted a goal in each half after missing the early part of the season while his registration was finalised.

"He came off an injury from the end of last year so he hasn't played a lot of football for quite a number of months,'' Kirkham said.

In Saturday night's much-needed victory, Izett made the most of his 75 minutes on the field.

His first goal came from a strong drive finish in the 18 yard box.

After the break, the Pride newcomer controlled a ball on his chest before volleying it 25 metres into the top left hand corner.

"It was a classic goal,'' Kirkham said.

Kirkham was also pleased with how Morrow and Anderson responded at key times.

"A lot of these boys have been struggling to play 90 minutes for us,'' Kirkham said.

"The thing that showed yesterday was all the training that we've done for the last month, including the under 20s, is showing that we are far, far fitter and far sharper.''

Given 45 minutes to play at his capacity, Morrow delivered.

"Michael came on at halftime and he scored straight away,'' Kirkham said. "It clearly that showed he is getting stronger and faster as well.''

Centre back Anderson's goal came from a set piece corner, also giving Kirkham plenty of encouragement moving forward.

Most heartening for the Pride coach was how his team finished the game after the scores were deadlocked 1-1 at halftime.

"We hadn't played a 4-4-2 system necessarily this way before,'' he said. "So we worked on that for the last two weeks with the under 20s and the first team.

"The first half (on Saturday night) we struggled a little bit to adapt but after halftime, we sorted a few things out and the boys were fantastic.

"When you look at the past results, all the goals we've conceded have been in the second half (when players were underdone).

"That's why we, for the last four weeks, have been in a program to get the boys in a six-week program to get them to a 90 minute team.

"And that's certainly where we are heading.''

With regular skipper Cam Crestani serving a suspension, Nielen Brown took over the captaincy on Saturday night.

He also gained some extended game time.

Kirkham praised Pride's goalkeeper Griffin Bambach, who was rushed into the side for the Toowoomba encounter.

"He was sensational,'' the head coach said. "He's fitted in really well with all the boys.

"Clearly, he's a high level goalkeeper that is going to go further than the NPL and that shows already.''

Western Pride's next clash is back at their home base against Redlands on Saturday night.

State of play

NPL: Western Pride 4 (Patrick Izett 2, Michael Morrow, Chris Anderson) def South West Thunder 2 in Toowoomba.

U20: Western Pride def SW Thunder 4-1. U18: SW Thunder def Pride 3-0.