Reigning NPL champions Perth SC stand between the PGFC Academy team and a place in the Night Series Final, with the two sides set to go head-to-head in an intriguing semi-final showdown at Bayswater City’s Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday (kick-off at 5pm).
It’s a first appearance for Richard Garcia’s side in the last four of the pre-season competition, while Perth have lifted the trophy on no fewer than 19 occasions, but Glory’s Head Coach is quietly confident that his young charges are improving with each game.
“For many of the players it’s their first time playing in senior first team football,” he said, “and they are coping well with the physicality and improving each week.
“The guys have grown into the games and last week against Armadale, it was a good all-round team performance.
“We’ll have to bring that again on Saturday against a strong Perth SC side.”
Garcia went on to confirm that he believes the experience of competing in the Foxtel Youth League has played a major role in furthering his squad’s football education.
“The Youth League was great for the players, ” he said.
“They learnt a great deal which will hold them in good stead for the NPLWA season ahead.
“Before that, though, we have the Night Series against Perth SC and it’s exciting for the players to have a chance to play in a high-pressure game.
“We’ll be doing all we can do to get a result on Saturday against a good side.”
Midfielder Josh Rawlins, meanwhile, felt that Glory showed how much progress they are continuing to make with their display in their final pool game against Armadale.
“We knew going into the Armadale game that we needed a win to qualify,” he said, “and we put in a good performance with the boys backing up our last couple of games.
“We created many chances in front of goal, but most importantly kept goals conceded to a minimum and it shows how far we have come as a group and that we are maturing into a quality side.”
Rawlins’ fine recent form was rewarded with a spot in Glory’s AFC Champions League squad, but while delighted with the call-up, the Night Series remains very much the priority for the 15-year-old.
“I’ve been with the first team for a couple of sessions over the last few weeks and I’m really enjoying it,” he said.
“To get selected in the ACL squad was a thrill and a bit of a surprise, but Saturday is all I’m focused on and obviously Perth have been a quality side for a while and are a challenge to come up against.
“We know it will be a tough game, but our last two games have proved that we are also a very confident team, with a belief to win and play without fear.”