Twin goals for Ipswich rivals: Win derby, play finals
AFTER a flurry of quality goals, Western Pride and the Ipswich Knights can start pondering another local derby showdown which could determine their Queensland Premier League finals hopes.
As Pride head coach Andrew Catton declared following his team's latest 6-1 victory: "We owe them (Knights) one. That's the next one on the priority list.''
The Knights beat Pride 2-1 in the earlier local derby duel at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
The return encounter is at the Knights ground on October 30 at Bundamba.
Before that, both teams have a break.
The Knights play Mitchelton on October 24 having completed a much-needed 3-1 away win over Rochedale on Friday night.
Pride have a welcome three-week break from fixtures due to a bye and catch-up matches.
Catton happily accepted that given the hefty injury toll his team has suffered this season.
"We're going to give them a whole week off, just because they are all busted and give them a rest,'' Catton said.
"It's been a long, long season due to COVID.''
The focus then will be the local derby.
Knights head coach Andy Ogden will continue training but give his players next weekend off.
He was much happier after his side overcame a big physical opponent and a slow start to get the job done.
"We conceded a sloppy goal in my book but other than that, we defended particularly well,'' Ogden said.
Equally pleasing was goals scored by Ben Barrett, Nick Edwards and Lucky Joe after the Knights had battled to consistently find the net in recent weeks.
Barrett scored the first after good lead-up work by midfielder Josh Wilson before Edwards put the Knights 2-1 up in the second half from a penalty.
The Knights were threatening when Edwards was brought down.With Rochedale having a man sent off from that play, the Knights sealed victory when Lucky Joe added a third.
"It was good because you can't always have your main strikers score,'' Ogden said of having three different players finishing off positive attack.
Barratt was set the challenge of scoring in the next game after goals in consecutive weeks.
The Knights were more settled after being without injured Japanese recruit Sho Otsuka, who has returned home.
Ogden rated his midfield close to the best in the league when Otsuka was working with Wilson and Mitch Herrmann.
"It was good to have Mitchie back this week and he played superb,'' Ogden said.
"He just adds a little bit of quality in there and calmness.''
Ogden was also encouraged by the performance of under-20 players Flyn Park, Darren Barton and Leon Nunda in the latest match.
Last night, Pride produced another spirited second half to run over Southside Eagles at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
After what Catton described as another poor and frustrating first half "being a little bit complacent'', his team picked up the tempo after halftime.
The home side sealed victory with three goals in the first 15 minutes after the break.
Japanese speedster Yuta Hirayama finished with a double, as did exciting prospect Jackson Bray. He now has four goals in two games.
Dependable Pride regulars Nathan Yoon and Will Orford also scored.
"All of them were good goals,'' Catton said. "Some of the better goals we've scored this year.''
The Pride coach praised stand-in skipper Kelton Scriggins for another gritty effort being under an injury cloud.
For the second week in a row, Ryan Stieler was outstanding.
With the make-up of the FQPL finals to be confirmed, both sides are keen to win their last three games to share in the end of season playoffs. They are hovering in the top five.
"It would be good to get in there,'' Catton said.
"We've proven that we can beat just about anyone in the league.
"If we can jag a spot in the finals, who knows what we can do? If we miss out we've got no one else to blame but ourselves because we've dropped too many points against teams that we should be beating.''
The Knights mentor also hoped his team could secure a finals spot, as it had in recent seasons.
"We rely on other teams losing,'' Ogden said, knowing that other teams are in similar situations.
STATE OF PLAY
FQPL: Western Pride 6 (Yuta Hirayama 2, Jackson Bray 2, Nathan Yoon, Will Orford) def Southside Eagles 1.
Ipswich Knights 3 (Ben Barrett, Nick Edwards, Lucky Joe) def Rochedale 1.