Words: Michael Flynn | Image: Sportspics
Gold Coast City coach Grae Piddick says his players left nothing on the field as they fell 3-0 to Western Pride in their PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland Semi-Final on Saturday night.
Playing their third must-win match in seven days, City valiantly battled against fatigue and injury before falling at the Semi-Final stage for a second straight year.
In a fast and physical clash, City started brightly as Sam Smith and Oskar Dillon both forced early saves, however, the departure of Smith after the half-hour with a hamstring injury took the sting out of City’s attack.
Despite being on the backfoot for much of the half, Pride capitalised only a minute before half-time through Dylan Wenzel-Halls’ lobbed finish – his first goal in a match-winning brace for the visitors.
Undaunted, City pushed relentlessly for an equaliser but were unable to get the better of a Pride defence determined to protect their lead.
With City chasing the game, Pride then sealed the result in the final ten minutes as Wenzel-Halls’ tucked home his second and former City player Adam Endean wrapped up the result shortly after.
Speaking post-match, Piddick said he could not be prouder of the heart shown by his side.
“I couldn’t be any happier with their efforts and it was a final so we weren’t going to die wondering. But we were chasing the game at the end and got caught a couple of times,” he said.
“It was just a bridge too far fatigue-wise. The boys definitely tried and if we had scored first then that would’ve given us a leg-up and something to hold on to but a few good saves early meant that didn't happen.”
“The boys definitely gave it their all and showed they are a good team and a good bunch of lads. We just have to regroup now and get ready for the FFA Cup game.”
With a number of strong challenges throughout the match from both sides, Piddick dismissed suggestions his team had gone out to unfairly rile their opponents.
“Western Pride are an extremely physical side – remember that’s why Jarrod Kyle had a dislocated shoulder in the first place - but they just get away with it because they are smaller physically.”
“Obviously our boys were pretty fired up. But when you’re tired it does have an effect and the reading of tackles can be a little bit off and some of ours weren’t the best.”
In addition to Smith’s injury, his replacement Riley Dillon saw his impact limited late in the contest after being caught on the shin by a heavy tackle. While regular starting goalkeeper Matt Stein was forced out pre-game with an injury sustained in Wednesday’s Westfield FFA Cup clash.
Piddick said an upcoming break from competitive fixtures before their Westfield FFA Cup Quarter Final will allow time for a long league season’s battle scars to heal.
“We’ve got a mountain of injuries now and some players unavailable. So we need the break in that sense to try and regroup and get ourselves ready for the FFA Cup.”
“But I have no doubt that the boys will get up for it,” he concluded.
City will discover their next opponent in the Westfield FFA Cup during the week after the final match day of the competition's Round of 16 - the national knock-out competition offering the final chance for silverware this season.
The club will prepare for their Westfield FFA Cup Quarter Final with training games and friendlies.
PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland 2017 Finals Series – Semi Final
Saturday, August 26
Duncan Mckenna Field, Palm Beach
Gold Coast City FC – 0
Western Pride FC – 3 (Dylan WENZEL-HALLS 45’ 83’, Adam ENDEAN 86’)
Gold Coast City FC: 3. Oskar DILLON, 5. Matthew SCHMIDT, 6. Roman HOFMANN, 7. Justyn MCKAY, 9. Jarrod KYLE, 14. Benjamin LYVIDIKOS (4. Martin VAZQUEZ 68’), 15. Eoghan MURPHY, 18. Jason CAMPBELL, 20. Joshua LANGDON, 21. Sam SMITH (2. Riley DILLON 32’), 22. Jaiden WALKER (19. Ethan GRIMLEY 60’)
Unused subs: 1. Garion VOGEL, 8. Harry LIEBKE