Why Ipswich football team aiming to join 'big boys'
FOOTBALL: Given the influx of young players and changing line-ups, the Ipswich Knights have done exceptionally well in this year's Queensland Premier League competition.
And with a run of home games looming, the Knights still have high hopes of playing finals' football this season.
As Knights captain Jack Cabassi puts it, his team want to be up with "the big boys'' at the business end of the season.
"Our goal is to finish top four,'' Cabassi said, preparing for tomorrow's game against Mitchelton at Bundamba.
"That would be a huge improvement from last year where they were.
"For us, the next few weeks is just building blocks. Build from them and then hopefully put them all together and get a run happening.''
As a new leader, Cabassi has backed the Knights' cultural shift this season working with coaches Andy Ogden and Lucas Wilson.
"The thing that I've found different in the last few years is that there's no egos,'' he said.
"Everyone in the squad, ranging from the first team and the 20s, we all get along. We have a chat, the banter . . . and it's good to have that competition and egging each other on.''
That has resulted in the Knights being much more competitive, currently sitting in sixth place (17 points), just one point behind Mitchelton.
The Knights' away game successes have included wins over the QPL leaders Sunshine Coast (25 points) and highly rated Logan (22). Capalaba are in second (24) with Rochedale fourth (21).
Although having a break in cohesion with players away, Cabassi was encouraged seeing his team take points off most of the top sides.
"All in all, I think the squad's doing a great job with Oggy and Lucas,'' Cabassi said.
"At times, we've had a younger squad and with people coming in and out, we maybe do lose concentration or lapse in a game which can cost us a goal here and there, and then all add up and we drop points.
"But in the next few weeks we want to cut that off and keep everyone fit . . . and hopefully build something and have a platform to jump off.''
The skilful defender hopes to use the spate of home games to advantage.
"It will be good to set up camp at home for a few weeks, back-to-back, and hopefully get a run of it,'' he said.
"Of late, we normally win one, then lose one, so it will be good to get one, two, three, four wins behind our back if that's possible and gain the momentum coming into the last few games, and fingers crossed, finals.''
As for his progress, Cabassi has settled well into the Knights structure.
"It's been good to gel with the likes of young (Robbie) Baker, Corey Lucas and Yuta (Kasahara),'' the skipper said.
"It's been really enjoyable and I find the morale and the cohesion is really good this year.''
Knights head coach Ogden was confident the return of some key players would give his team a boost for tomorrow's encounter.
Defender Ben Taylor is expected back after being troubled by an ankle injury over the past month.
Ben Barratt (knee knock) and Matt White (hamstring tweak) are also in contention after missing recent games.
Striker Lachlan Munn will be assessed after returning from overseas.
"If we can be nice and solid and show some of the qualities that we have, we're a good chance of winning games,'' Ogden said.
"We were disappointed with the Rochedale result (losing 2-0 last weekend) basically because it was just that little bit of quality in the front third that probably changed things.
"We know we've got that. We've just got to make sure we're a little bit better than we were last week. We weren't far off it last week, that's for sure.''
Ogden was hoping the Knights under-20 side can resume their winning form after losing a number of players last weekend to higher level duty.
QPL: Sunday (3pm) - Ipswich Knights v Mitchelton at Eric Evans Oval. U18s at 11am with U20s at 1pm.