Timely boost for top footballers heading north
WESTERN Pride have received two boosts for Saturday's National Premier Leagues football trip north.
Accomplished player Hayden Mchenery has been cleared by the FFA (Football Federation Australia) to rejoin Pride after his successful off-season stint with Hawke's Bay United.
Mchenery will head to Townsville with the team having waited anxiously to play while the clearance went through.
Pride will also have experienced defender Cam Crestani on the 8.50am Saturday morning flight after he had suffered no lasting problems from a knock to his right knee last weekend.
Crestani was replaced and iced his knee after an injury scare in Pride's 3-2 loss to Olympic at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
"It's all good,'' Crestani, 21, said. "I returned to training on Tuesday and it was fine.''
Having shared in Pride's historic NPL grand final triumph last year, Crestani welcomed Mchenery back into the closeknit squad.
"He has got a lot of experience and he's a weapon for us going forward and he's good to have in your backline as well,'' Crestani said.
Mchenery's return is timely after Pride conceded an early goal against Olympic last weekend.
"We just made things hard for ourselves as we do sometimes,'' key defender Crestani said.
"We are our own worst enemies.
"We made a slow start, which is probably something we need to address.''
However, Crestani found a positive in the early NPL loss.
"To come away a 3-2 (defeat) knowing that we hadn't played our best football is a good sign but we've just got to get to our best football so we don't have to deal with that kind of stuff again.''
He hopes Pride's first road trip of the new season this weekend, followed by another away game in Mackay, builds on the fine team spirit achieved last season.
"It's probably come at a good time for us,'' he said.
"For team bonding and everything and it's just good for cohesion.
"People are still trying to find their place in the team again (this season).
"It's good just to get away as a team and talk about things.
"It should be enjoyable."
Having played nearly 90 NPL matches, Crestani is gearing up for his 16th game for Pride after enjoying an off-season break.
Crestani scored Pride's first goal in the grand final before sharpshooter Dylan Wenzel-Halls nailed the winner against Moreton Bay United.
He enjoyed a welcome break late last year, recovering from a sore shoulder injured in last year's semi-final against the Gold Coast.
"I hadn't had a rest in about four or so years. It's been non-stop,'' the classy centre back said.
"I spent time with family and friends, which is always good.''
As for Saturday night's opponents, the former Brisbane Roar A-League player expected North Queensland United to be a revamped Northern Fury side from last year's NPL.
"I don't know a lot about them,'' he said. "But at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what they do. We worry about ourselves first and foremost.
"Whatever they present us, we should be able to deal with.''
Meanwhile, Pride's under 20 men won their latest match, beating Olympic 4-1 on Monday night.
Pride's goal scorers were Jacob Kleinhans (2), Mitch Herrmann and Peter Khemis.
Their next match is on Monday night against Brisbane Roar at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
That will follow the rescheduled NPL women's clash between Western Pride and Brisbane Roar.
NPL men: Saturday (7pm) - Western Pride v North Queensland United at Brolga Park, Townsville.
NPL women: Monday (6.15pm) - Western Pride v Brisbane Roar youth at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex. The Western Pride under 20 men play Brisbane Roar in the 8.15pm match.