Why Ipswich football program one of best in Qld
"IT'S been a tough year but we're still here''.
That's how "super proud'' Western Pride head coach Reg Davani reflected on his club's achievement heading into next weekend's National Premier Leagues Queensland finals.
Pride's senior men, under-20 men and under-18 boys sides have all qualified for the latest state league playoffs.
"Overall to get three NPL sides into finals, we're probably the best NPL program that's going around right now,'' Davani said.
"Considering the year that we've had, to get everyone in finals is a credit.
"It's a true testament to the players and staff for the whole senior program for sticking together and working through the difficult times.''
Among the club's challenges were moving forward after losing former head coach Graham Harvey to a professional role in Hong Kong.
Pride's senior program also lost players like Dylan Wenzel-Halls and Dan Hall to higher level clubs and had to contend with long-term injuries and suspension issues.
However, Davani has continued the positive work of Harvey, developing the senior and youth programs.
Aaron Midkiff was the latest young player to make his senior team debut last night.
He followed other 2018 top team debutants Mitch Herrmann, Wilfred Phillip, Ben Barratt and Jordan Manning.
Former Ipswich Grammar School student Davani is pleased to see Western Pride's philosophy and club culture working well.
"The 20s this year finished second, compared to last year when they finished fifth,'' he said.
"The 18s have a completely new squad to last year and they finished third so the talent is there.
"It's been a massive year for the club.
"Promoting young players and giving them the opportunity at the right time for exposure at a high level of football in the state is what the program is about, and we've shown that this year.''
Apart from securing a finals spot for the second year in a row, Pride's men's team also finished the regular season having scored the most goals (94).
That is 12 goals more than competition leaders Lions, who host Moreton Bay United in next weekend's other semi-final.
Defending state league grand final champions Pride needed to beat Brisbane City at Newmarket on Saturday night to have any chance of hosting a home semi-final.
However, they still finished the season in third place after losing their final regular season match 3-2.
Pride head to Goodwin Park next weekend to face second-placed Olympic.
Pride's under-20 and under- 18 teams can also step up preparations this week.
Davani praised Manning for helping him with Pride's senior and under-20 sides.
Hayden Mchenery has also played an important role with the under-18s.
Davani said Pride's professional manager Darryl Christensen continued to be a tower of support along with the club's medical staff.
In last night's senior match, City led 2-0 at halftime before Pride fought back strongly.
Ever-dependable striker Joe Duckworth added two new records to his achievement at Western Pride after converting a penalty goal.
Duckworth is now Pride's top goal scorer with 41 from a club high 93 appearances.
Pride's second successful strike on Saturday night was ruled an own goal after a super shot from Jacob Minett hit the frame and City's goalkeeper before going in.
Despite a late charge, Pride were unable to secure at least a point from the game.
"I thought in general we did okay,'' Davani said.
"There's one or two areas where we need to tighten up a bit but in terms of general play and enthusiasm and energy for us last night, we were good.''
Key defender Hayden Mchenery (groin soreness) was rested as a precaution.