NPL Preview: First Team eyeing redemption in Stirling clash

The PGFC Academy First Team will be seeking redemption when they take on NPL WA title-hopefuls Stirling Macedonia at Lark Hill on Saturday (kick-off at 3pm, Admission FREE).

Head Coach John Walmsley felt that his young charge did not do themselves justice when the two sides met back in Round 9 and he is keen to see them avenge the 3-0 defeat they suffered at Macedonia Park that day.

“Last time we played them, they had a plan for us,” he said.

“They pressed quite high and were aggressive man on man.

“So it’ll be about dealing with that and making sure we’re better in possession and get a rhythm into the match.

“I thought last time we didn’t deal with their approach and the game almost bypassed us in a way.

“It was two late goals, but the result didn’t reflect the way the game went; it was probably our worst performance of the season and we want to put that right at the weekend.”

The First Team head into the game having been edged out 1-0 by Olympic Kingsway last weekend, but given that no fewer than nine regular starters were away on senior team duty, Walmsley felt that there was much to like about the performance.

“I thought the boys did well,” he said.

“There were loads of lads there that had never played in the First Team before and that jump from Under-20s to First Team is quite big in terms of the physicality, speed of the game and the quality of the league as well.

“I thought they were unlucky not to have come away from the game with something.

“There were a few chances that we could have scored, but performance-wise, I couldn’t really fault them.”

The youngsters who stepped up to the senior squad for both the high-profile friendly against West Ham and Australia Cup Playoff clash with Macarthur FC received plenty of plaudits for their efforts and Walmsley was understandably pleased to see the Academy being represented in such a positive way.

“It was massive,” he said.

“We know that there are some good players in the Academy, but it’s just a case of them getting that opportunity to show what they can do at the next level.

“It’s no different to the 20s taking their chance against Kingsway.

“You can’t control when your time comes, but when it does come, you need to be ready to show what you can do and I think the fact that there were nine of them involved in the West Ham game and then four or five in the Macarthur game, it only bodes well for their development.

“They’ve had a taste of it now and they know what it’s all about.”

The Head Coach went on to confirm that the majority of the players who missed the Kingsway game are in line to return this weekend.

“The ones who didn’t travel to Darwin, I’m pretty sure they’ll all be available and then with the ones that did play in that Macarthur game, we’ll see what condition they come back in and make a decision based on that,” he said.

“At this moment, I’m expecting them all to be ok.”

Stirling will travel south looking to bounce back from a surprise 1-0 away defeat at Cockburn City last time out, a result which allowed Perth RedStar to move one point clear of them at the top of the table.

Their success this term has been based on a rock-solid defence which has conceded a league-best 16 goals in 16 games, while at the other end, Daniel Faichney (6) and Asher Nelson (5) are their leading scorers.

Ahead of the First Team game on Saturday, the Under-18s and Under-20s will both be out to consolidate top spot in their respective divisions, with their games starting at 11am (18s) and 1pm (20s).

Do get along and support the lads if you can.

(picture courtesy of Tom McCarthy)