Goals keep flowing after Thunder strikes
WESTERN Pride head into the Easter break with extra confidence after conquering another hurdle on their impressive run in this year's National Premier Leagues state competition.
A week after scoring in the first minute before winning 5-0, Pride took 40 minutes to find the net in their latest clash against South West Thunder in Ipswich.
However, after working through Thunder's stubborn defence, the floodgates opened in the second half.
Pride secured a 7-1 victory, boosting their goal-scoring tally to 38 in just seven games.
While mindful of Pride's uncharacteristic slow start, head coach Graham Harvey was delighted how his team found a way to continue its goal-scoring feast.
"You've got to give credit there to Toowoomba. I think they came here with their plan - to sit back and try and frustrate us,'' Harvey said.
"They did that but our boys are in a good spot at the moment and stayed positive and broke them down.''
Harvey said it was a valuable lesson - and confidence boost - for his team as rivals try to stop Pride's dangerous attacking formation.
"At halftime, I told them to stay patient,'' he said.
"There were a couple of key areas where we thought we could hurt them a bit more than we did.
"The last two weeks before this have been a bit abnormal. We've been in a position where within about two or three minutes we're in front and the game is settled. It was just a case of a more normal game of football to start with where we just had to build in and just play to our strengths a little bit.''
While he acknowledged opposing teams were trying something different against Pride, he backed his players to meet the challenge, especially with their fast-finishing ability.
"We are in a good spot with our fitness and we're in a good spot with our mentality so they play all the way through to the end and they make sure that they are pretty ruthless, which is good,'' he said.
In Saturday night's game, Harvey was pleased to see second half substitute Saloman Lukonga net a double after providing more attacking options up the flanks.
"He's starting to grow into the senior program and be effective now when he comes on,'' Harvey said. "And he's starting to be a little bit more consistent.''
Cheered on by the ever vocal supporters in "The Pit'', the Pride players took 40 minutes to break open Thunder.
The league's leading goal scorer Dylan Wenzel-Halls provided a neat pass across the goal mouth for hard-working striker Joe Duckworth to fire home.
Fleet-footed Wenzel-Halls made one of his trademark piercing runs just minutes later when he blasted home a shot.
After it was initially ruled offside, the referee awarded the goal after reviewing where the first run came from.
South West Thunder struck back early in the second half, threatening to equalize through some determined attack.
However, after repelling the charge, Pride's fit and fast players clicked up a gear with defender Cam Crestani heading in the team's third goal from a well-placed corner kick.
Lukonga added a fourth being in the goalmouth during a free kick.
Midfielder Adam Endean then scored the goal of the game with a superb strike from well outside the box following a corner.
Lukonga sealed a double before Thunder had Christopher Hatfield sent off for a late tackle on Duckworth.
Wenzel-Halls completed the powerhouse finish with his second goal.
He wrongfooted his Thunder opponent and drove home the goal.
Beneficial rest before big week
WITH a tough schedule of games after Easter, Western Pride head coach Graham Harvey planned to continue training on Tuesday night before giving his players a short break over the long weekend.
Pride's next game is against big improvers Gold Coast on April 7 before an important midweek FFA Cup game at Mt Gravatt and a road trip to Cairns the same week.
"We've got a little busy period just after Easter so we've got to make sure we stay conditioned,'' he said.
"Make sure we have a little rest and some time with the family and girlfriends, etc and then back in.''
Harvey was confident the foundation had been laid for his side to fire up again after the long weekend.
"They will benefit from a rest. They've been on the go now probably since the beginning of January,'' he said.