Western Pride captain Cam Crestani.
Western Pride captain Cam Crestani. Chris Simpson

Pride ignites NPL revival hopes with crucial win

FOOTBALL: After giving his team a much needed boost, Western Pride captain Cam Crestani had every reason to feel upbeat boarding the plane home.

Western Pride had just hours earlier ended a massive losing streak, beating the Magpies Crusaders 4-0 in Mackay.

While it was only the start of a hoped-for National Premier Leagues competition revival, Crestani praised his teammates for their committed display on Saturday night.

"It was good to score some goals and keep a clean sheet,'' Crestani said, having returned from recent knee arthroscopic surgery.

"We did the job that we came up here to do and we're pretty happy with it.''

Pride's third win of the season came at a crucial time as they look to move off the bottom of the NPL ladder.

 

Western Pride striker Michael Morrow takes on the Redlands defence during their NPL match at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
Western Pride striker Michael Morrow scored a well deserved goal in his team's latest 4-0 win. Chris Simpson

Hard-working striker Michael Morrow was rewarded with the first goal from a great cross before Crestani potted the second off a corner.

Up 2-0 at halftime, Pride finished the job when newcomer Mustafa Jafara slotted home the third goal before speedster Alex Parsons sealed the deserved win from a goal-mouth scramble.

Crestani was delighted his team broke the goal-scoring shackles having threatened for many weeks to find the net.

He enjoyed playing in his more familiar centre back role having spent the early part of the season in the midfield.

Crestani combined well with Gabby Hawash, who recently returned to Pride to strengthen the backline.

Former A-League footballer Crestani was happy to see Jafara and latest signing Anthony Sarramea getting involved.

"They made a big difference for us last night,'' Crestani said.

Crestani said building on the 2-0 halftime lead was important for his team's confidence.

"We knew the job was only half done,'' he said. "Earlier in the season, we've had a 1-0 lead or whatnot and we've ended up losing it from there so it was good to end up winning the game.''

 

Magpies Crusaders United Josh Brookes watches as a Western Pride player headbutts the ball.
Western Pride defender Kelton Scriggins beats Magpies Crusaders United player Josh Brookes to the ball in Saturday night's win. Alison Langevad Photography

As for his knee, Crestani was thrilled to be back leading the side he has given so much to in recent seasons.

"It (my knee) was a bit cold to start with,'' Crestani said. "It was a bit sore actually so it took a bit to get warm but after that it felt pretty good.

"Today it's feeling pretty good so I'm pretty happy with it.''

Pride celebrated by getting the new players singing the team song.

Crestani also appreciated having loyal Pride fans flying to Mackay to keep their tradition going in "The Pit''.

"It was good to have them up there. It just shows their dedication,'' Crestani said. "It definitely gave us a boost seeing these guys make the investment.''

Pride's vital victory came 24 hours after the Ipswich Jets had beaten the Mackay Cutters 34-20 in another important clash in their Intrust Super Cup rugby league competition.

By while the Jets were working hard to stay in the top eight, Western Pride were battling to avoid relegation.

They'll need to string together some more wins in coming weeks to move ahead of the Crusaders and keep above Sunshine Coast and South West Queensland.

"We're starting to be a bit settled,'' Crestani said. "The signings have definitely improved the squad.

"We're just hoping to go on a (winning) roll.''

In other weekend results, the Ipswich City Bulls squandered a chance to move higher up the Capital League 1 ladder by losing 3-2 to St George at Sutton Park on Saturday night.

However, Ripley Valley consolidated second spot in Capital League 3 by beating third-placed Bethania Rams 3-0 in their latest game.

State of play

NPL: Western Pride 4 (Michael Morrow, Cam Crestani, Mustafa Jafari, Alex Parsons) def Magpies Crusaders 0.

NPL women: Lions def Western Pride 6-0.

CL1: St George def Ipswich City 3-2. Reserves: Ipswich City drew St George 3-3.

CL3: Ripley Valley def Bethania 3-0.