Injury-plagued season comes to early end
IT WAS a disappointing way to end a disappointing season, but Western Spirit coach Matt Raub is looking at the positives.
The highly anticipated Capital League 2 derby between Spirit and Ipswich City Bulls was set to go ahead this weekend.
But the two clubs could not agree on a date or time, and Football Brisbane thus awarded a forfeit victory to the Bulls.
The decision secured a finals berth for the Ipswich City side, and consigned the Spirit to a seventh-placed finish.
The first-year coach said it was not the way he hoped to finish the season, particularly because players and fans-alike always take interest in the local derby. But it was a decision they would cop and move on from.
Taking four wins from their opening five rounds, Spirit looked a likely finals contender before injury struck.
"We lost a lot of players through injury, I think in total we lost seven to season-ending injuries and we just didn't have the depth to cover all of those losses,” Raub said.
Of the seven who were lost, Raub said the majority were senior players who helped give the team balance across the park. When rendered unavailable, it was a tough ask for the younger brigade.
"We were probably a little young, that was always going to be our biggest issue,” the coach recalled.
"Losing those experienced players didn't help, but future-wise we have some nice guys coming through.”
And that was the silver lining Raub took from the season, with almost half of the starting team under 20 years of age at the back-end of the year.
"If we can add two or three more players plus keep what we have, I think we can be very strong next year,” Raub said.
"We had a young striker (Lachlan Jackson) come in and make a big difference. Before that we relied on Dylan Goodman but then he got injured. We played for eight weeks without a striker.”
Raub was forced to move the magnets more often than he would have liked this season, but in doing so he unearthed some talent.
"I think Travis Walters stood up more than we thought he would, and Joel Fernandez before he got injured was probably one of our stand outs,” Raub said.
The coach recalled a goal away to New Farm as his highlight of the season.
"One of the goals we scored against New Farm, it was something we'd worked on all year,” Raub said.
"We scored within 30 seconds, and it was a case of, 'OK, they're starting to get what you're teaching them'.”