Red card setback: Ipswich team's captain, coach sent off
FOOTBALL: Western Pride will have to win Saturday night's do-or-die state league match without their captain on the field and coach on the sideline after another frustrating night for the relegation-threatened team.
Skipper Cam Crestani will sit out Pride's home game against Brisbane City after receiving a red card for accruing two yellow cards in his team's 3-0 loss to second placed Gold Coast Knights on Wednesday night.
Head coach Terry Kirkham will be unable to coach from the Briggs Road Sporting Complex dugout after also being red carded in a dramatic round 17 National Premier Leagues catch-up match.
Kirkham approached the referee at halftime seeking an answer to why his team was denied a penalty that would have given Pride a chance to lead 1-0 at a crucial stage of the game.
Kirkham received his first red card warning in 800 games.
He said it was an unfortunate situation on a night his team was fighting for 2020 NPL survival.
"I accept it (the red card) because the conversation happened and the conversation became heated,'' Kirkham said.
"We had a conversation at halftime that should technically not happen.
"It's big decision in a big game but you have got to protect the referees as well.''
While he took the wrong action, Kirkham explained why he approached the ref.
"I had to ask the question for my players and I've got to stand up for my players because I don't believe in any way, shape or form that my player dived,'' he said.
"I've got to know why. We didn't agree. It's a massive game for the club, a massive game for the team.
"It would have potentially put us in front.
"We had a heated conversation and the referee chose to exercise his rights.''
Pride needed to beat the Knights to move into 12th spot ahead of the Magpies Crusaders with two matches left.
While accepting he shouldn't have approached the referee, Kirkham said the disallowed penalty was crucial with the scores deadlocked at 0-0.
The incident involved Pride attacking midfielder Zelfy Nazary who was threatening in the penalty box before Kirkham argued the Afghanistan international was brought down.
The referee saw it differently.
The loss leaves Pride one point behind the Crusaders with Saturday night's game against Brisbane City and a final clash with Brisbane Strikers to get out of relegation trouble.
Kirkham was proud of his team's performance keeping the defensively powerful Knights to 0-0 at halftime before the major drama at the Croatian Sports Centre.
"The boys have worked really hard,'' he said.
"We were all over them.
"I'm pretty disappointed.''
However, he praised his team for how they tactically tackled the championship's top two teams Lions and Gold Coast, without any winning reward.
Last night, the Knights showed their quality after 70 minutes of play by capitalising on some Pride inexperience.
"We were just starting to get frustrated because we couldn't score,'' Kirkham said.
"We had all the chances and all of a sudden, like the best teams do, we concede a soft goal and then we concede a second very soft goal and it's all over.
"We've come that far in the last 15 weeks it's not funny and you just have to watch the tape. It's as clear as day. We had our chances.''
Kirkham said he would make a decision on Crestani's captaincy replacement after assessing how his players pulled up after the tough night on the Gold Coast.
NPL Rd 17 catch-up match: Gold Coast Knights def Western Pride 3-0.
Next game: Saturday (7pm) - Western Pride v Brisbane City at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.