Why calm heads are needed for super football showdown
FRESH from a four-goal haul, Western Pride's attacking architect Joe Duckworth knows what awaits in Ipswich on Saturday night.
It's a mouth-watering state league showdown between competition leaders Pride and third-placed Lions at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
However, as Lions pose a massive threat being just three points behind and with a game in hand, Duckworth typifies the measured approach of this year's senior Pride players.
"It's naive not to look at the opposition but you can't really focus solely on them and go away from what you've been doing and what's been successful for you,'' Duckworth said.
"There's a few calm heads around the place at the moment.
"No-one gets over-excited or nervous, or channels energy in any different way.''
The former Ipswich Grammar School student rated Pride's Richlands neighbours a top-class National Premier Leagues opponent after their recent 1-0 win over second-placed Olympic.
Lions also have the best defensive record in the league, having only conceded seven goals from their 16 matches.
"To me, they are probably the best team in the league,'' Duckworth said, wary of their quality strikepower.
"They are well coached.
"They know what they are doing.
"They have got quality players all over the park.''
Although Pride beat Lions 1-0 in the first round, Duckworth knows Saturday night's game will be a different challenge at this stage of the season.
"We're been working hard this week and in recent times now with coaches and players leaving but we're all sticking together,'' he said. "And hopefully we can get another good result.
"It's a big game of football but that's why we play . . . really look forward to the big games to test how good people really are.
"There's no bigger test than Lions so everyone is really excited for it.''
With Pride since 2015, Duckworth appreciated club co-ordinator Dan Burnell playing a vital role with Graham Harvey heading overseas and interim head coach Reg Davani away for last weekend's Sunshine Coast match.
"Dan has been there since I've been there,'' Duckworth said. "He knows enough to keep us ticking over.
"We've got a good senior group of players there that have played over 50 NPL games so it's not like we're new kids on the block.
"We know how to get ourselves moving, we know what we are doing.
"It comes down to the players. We've just got to put a shift in and the result will take care of itself.
"We're mindful of their strengths but we are also aware of where we can get them.''
Pride lead the competition on 42 points, ahead of Olympic on goal differences.
Lions are third on 39 points.
While respecting Lions, Duckworth praised stand-in skipper Cam Crestani for his efforts as Jesse Rigby continued his road to recovery from ankle ligament damage.
"Jesse has been a key part of the squad for a number of years now, he's our captain,'' Duckworth said.
"We really do miss him but Cam's doing a great job.
"He had leadership experience at the Roar and all the other senior boys around the squad are trying to help where we can.''
Duckworth was hoping for another victory after Pride came from a goal down to win last weekend's clash 8-1 over Sunshine Coast.
"It was a good team performance and I was lucky enough to get on the end of some goals,'' the modest footballer said.
"It is always nice to score but the most important thing is we got those three points in the quest to hold down that top four spot.''
Saturday night's main game is at 7pm, after the Pride women tackle Souths United in the 5pm clash.