Honest insights as Knights reflect, refocus for 2021
AS the Ipswich Knights welcome a break after a long and difficult season, head coach Andy Ogden has offered some honest and relevant insights.
He won't stand in the way of any player wanting to leave the Football Queensland Premier League (FQPL) club.
However, he was confident of retaining a group of loyal senior players and the rising young guns he has given extended game time to this season.
"We are happy to keep promoting the juniors, keep pushing for the kids to come forward, but they have to be good enough,'' Ogden said.
Among the Knights under-20 players to gain extended valuable game time this season have been Murray Thistlewaite, Darren Barton, Alex Golding, Leon Nunda and Flyn Park.
"They are better for it so they come back hopefully next year with a real belief that they can be a real part of the first team,'' the coach said.
The loyal Ipswich coach was keen for his players to enjoy time with their families and ponder their futures over the break.
"I'm the type of coach who says 'if you don't want to play for the Knights, that's fine','' he said.
"You go and enjoy your football and do what you have to do as a player.
"But your priority is to keep the squad together.''
The Knights ended their challenging stop-stop season with a 4-3 win over Southside Eagles at Perry Park on Saturday night.
After trailing 2-0, the Knights showed some ticker to come back and secure victory in their final game.
Finishing the season in sixth place - just out of the finals - summed up the season for the Knights.
"The positive is we probably maintained the level we were at last year,'' Ogden said.
"Injuries, people leaving, all these things have an impact on a squad but every squad has that.''
He said the league's more settled squads like Logan and South West Thunder ended up vying for the finals and FQPL promotion.
"It's a difficult gig to go and promote your own juniors when you are in a small community like Ipswich,'' Ogden said.
"You've got two teams (Knights and Pride) competing for the best young players so good luck to anyone who can do that.
"I think Pride have done fantastic and I think we've done fantastic giving the number of youngsters an opportunity.''
Pride head coach Andrew Catton has also done an exceptional job this season developing promising teenagers while knowing a lack of experience hurts a team at this level.
"So hats off to both clubs,'' Ogden said.
"All you can hope for in all honesty is if two or three, maybe four, push their way through.''
Ogden said clubs like the Knights and Pride can't afford to buy big name players, especially after the COVID impact this season.
"It's what we've got so we have to make do,'' Ogden said.
"And at any stage in a year, we perform well against the better teams, just haven't got the result.''
Ogden cited the example where the Knights only lost 3-2 to competition pacesetters Thunder.
Pride then beat Thunder before a week later losing to a team they probably shouldn't go down to.
The Knights encountered similar situations throughout the season.
"It's a funny old league because we've comfortably beat Rochedale twice and then they go out and comfortably beat other teams we can't beat,'' the former Coalstars footballer said.
"There's probably only been two or three games where we've been below what we should be and deservedly didn't get anything out of the game.
"You play well but not get anything out of the game.
"We were just a little bit inconsistent. We don't have that mature player just to steer the ship at times.
"But as long as everyone is learning and enjoying it, I can accept what's happened.''
In Saturday night's season-ending match, the Knights recovered from a poor start to trail 2-1 at halftime following a goal by Nick Edwards.
A goal to Michael Morrow straight after the break consolidated the comeback at 2-2 before the Knights wrapped up the game.
"The build-up for the goals was pleasing,'' Ogden said. "But we had a poor night defensively.
"We had enough quality in the front third and midfield to come back and grind out the win.
"We could have folded at 2-0 (down) but we've got a belief we could come back and win the game, which was good.''
FQPL: Ipswich Knights 4 (Nick Edwards, Michael Morrow, Mitch Herrmann, Ben Barratt) d Southside Eagles at Perry Park.