Knights display 'real steel' in defying home team's tactics
FOOTBALL: Forced to suddenly alter their final preparations, the Ipswich Knights under 20s displayed "real steel'' and maturity in upsetting the competition leaders.
The Knights' latest 1-0 victory on Sunday night couldn't have come at a better time.
The Football Queensland Premier League under-20 combination has progressed directly to this weekend's grand final after winning the battle between the fourth and first-placed sides.
However, their bid gained added pressure when home side Sunshine Coast made a late game change.
"To think that at basically Friday lunchtime you think you are playing on Saturday arvo, then all of a sudden they throw that at you (a change to Sunday night), it's not real professional,'' Knights coach Andy Ogden said.
However, he said his squad responded in the best fashion by banding together after having one of the regular players Alexander Golding unable to play due to the change.
"We just kind of got together and said before the game that we make sure we get something out of it,'' Ogden said.
"It disrupted Father's Day for some people.
"They (the young Knights players) were really focused on what they were doing.
"They showed a little bit of maturity. They showed real steel because Sun Coast didn't win the league for any other reason than they are a good team.''
After a scoreless first half, the Knights again refocused against a mobile, fast, aggressive team that had won 19 of their 24 regular season games.
Ogden said the discussion worked with wide left substitute Rhys Phipps breaking the game open with a curling free kick.
With Sunshine Coast desperate to get back in the semi-final, Knights goalkeeper Xander Gywnn-Jones stood tall, well supported by centre backs Jamie Cameron and Quentin Dodd.
Ogden also praised his midfield combination, led by captain Flyn Park and Matt White, for controlling play as the pressure mounted.
"Everyone played well,'' Ogden said.
"It was a good solid squad. The guys who came off the bench contributed really well.''
The Knights face second-placed Rochedale in Sunday's grand final.
That is provided the in-form home side don't try the same ploy as Sunshine Coast.
FQPL Under 20 semi-final: Ipswich Knights 1 (Rhys Phipps) def Sunshine Coast 0 at Buderim.
Second semi-final: Rochedale def Peninsula 9-0.
Knights to meet Rochedale in Sunday's 5pm grand final at Rochedale.