Western Pride Senior Men coach Graham Harvey hailed the depth in the club’s youth ranks after watching the PlayStation® NPL Queensland U18 side defeating Gold Coast City 2-1 on Saturday night Briggs Rd.
Mambo Kashindi’s opener was cancelled out by the visitors before Jonathan Ward scored a last-minute winner to ensure Pride youngster’s maintained a perfect record.
The result means the U18s started their season with back-to-back wins after defeating Sunshine Coast FC Fire 6-3 in the opening round.
Harvey credits U18 coach and former Fiji youth international Krishneel Maharaj on the youth side’s improvement this season.
“He puts in really long hours – me and him are always last ones out,” Harvey said.
“He’s always looking to learn and ask me questions and I think the start he’s managed to produce with his boys this season is fantastic.”
Harvey who said he was expecting to blood several of Maharaja’s charges in the top team over the coming months.
“Right through what we do with the 18s, 20s (Youth Men) and our senior squad we have a pool of players who will all play first team over the course of this season,” Harvey said.
“In the senior game against Gold Coast City we made two enforced changes where boys from our under 20s had to come in to the match day squad.”
Harvey’s faith in the club’s youth ranks saw him give a senior debut to Youth Men defender Cory Leggett against City after the experienced Alistair Wallis was ruled out with injury during the week.
Leggett joined a host of youthful first team regulars including the night’s goal scorers Corey Lucas and Joe Duckworth, both 19, and 18-year old Senior Men captain Jesse Rigby.
Harvey said it was Pride’s job was to give young players the opportunity to play first team.
“We really believe in the NPL pathway,” Harvey concluded.
Words: Garry McKenzie
Additional Reporting: Mark Guy (Gold Coast City)
Photo: Chris Simpson
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