By Nathan Scales – NPL Correspondent

  1. ‘Forget last start’

That’s horse racing parlance that form writers use when a favourite fails to live up to expectations. It should be used when assessing the chances of the Western Pride in their next match.

It’s the one result from the weekend that has everyone talking with plenty of opinion and analysis taking place as to how such a result occurred. Opinions have been as varied as a team at that level of football shouldn’t concede twelve goals to the officials having an impact on the outcome.

Let’s break down the series of events:

  • Pride got off to a pretty good start and looked to be the better side in the opening fifteen minutes and there was no reason to suspect the events that were about to unfold;
  • The first goal from the Roar on the quarter hour seemed to be the catalyst for the spiral;
  • Pride were 2-0 down when the first send-off occurred in the 28th minute. The player sent-off had been warned a number of times by the referee that he was living on the edge of further sanction, his last warning came only 30 seconds prior to receiving his second yellow card;
  • The Roar put away another three goals in the period where the Pride played with ten men;
  • It was hard to find fault with the decision for the second send-off, goal scoring opportunity and the Roar player was brought down in the box;
  • After the second send-off, Roar scored another two prior to the half-time break where Pride went into the sheds 7-0 down;
  • Coach Karl Dodd emptied his bench at the halftime break;
  • There were four penalties awarded in the match and all four were converted by the Roar. At least two were given for handballs and it summed up the Pride’s day, nothing was going right for them.

So what do we take out of all that? For whatever reason, it seemed to be mental attitude that got to the Pride. Their performances from earlier in the season indicate that football skill and talent is not the issue. They’d already received a lesson at the same venue two weeks earlier about playing out a full 90 minutes and this is another step in a learning curve for a side that mainly consists of players under 21 of age.

It’s interesting timing for this result to occur. The Pride will need to wait three weeks to get back onto the park to show that last weekend’s result was an aberration. Would they have benefited by getting onto the park again this weekend with the opportunity to bounce back quickly in an attempt to prove it was just a one-off? With the League’s Easter break, we’ll never have the answer to that one.

  1. These records should stand for a while

To the other side of the ledger of the Roar v Pride match. It would be remiss not to acknowledge the efforts of the Roar in that match. In terms of the scoring tally, Mitch Hore’s six goals in the match overtook the efforts of the previous record holders, Reuben Way and Antonio Murray who each scored five in respective 2013 matches.

Way’s five goals were scored against the now defunct CQFC Energy. That match, where Redlands won 11-2, was the previous marker for the highest number of goals a team has scored in an individual match as well as the highest winning margin in a match. The Brisbane Roar now hold both those records.

Yes Mitch Hore scored six goals and that deserves worthy recognition but the other player who deserves the accolades was captain Ben Litfin who set up at least five of the Roar’s dozen goals in an outstanding performance.

  1. The two bottom sides can at least claim a moral win

Thunder and Brisbane City only have one point each but if there was some sort of bonus system for second half results, both sides would have claimed that on Sunday night.

City and Thunder both conceded four first half goals to their opponents (Thunder against Olympic and City against Moreton Bay) but both were then able to come out and win their second halves, Thunder scoring two late in the match while City scored one of their own and kept the Jets from adding to their halftime tally.

There appears to be steady improvement at both clubs and if they can continue to make steady progress week-by-week, results and points should come too.

  1. It’s a tipster’s nightmare!

Exhibit 1, Your Honour: Brisbane Roar 12 v Western Pride 0 but I think we’ve already covered that one.

Exhibit 2, Your Honour: FNQ Heat 0 v Brisbane Strikers 1. Well, not totally unexpected that the Strikers would win but only one goal scored in this match considering that in their previous encounters, the average goals scored in this fixture has been almost four per match? Any game involving the Heat usually involves its fair share of goals so it was unusual to see defence taking such a heavy focus in that one.

Exhibit 3, Your Honour: Northern Fury 1 v Sunshine Coast Fire 5. So the Fury who have been on the road for the last four weeks ended that run chalking up a good victory at Redlands last week. Should make for a good return to home? You’d think so but the Fire spoiled that party and lived up to their nickname in terms of goal scoring with Reyze Kelly relishing his chance at his old digs, scoring. 5-1 hey, this season is proving that no match-up should be taken for granted.

  1. Will the trend continue?

In the short two-year history of the NPL, the team that has led at the Easter break has gone on to win the title. Moreton Bay are the anointed team this year and there’s nothing to suggest on current form that they can’t go on to win it.

The next section of matches for the Jets between Easter and Queen’s Birthday could well be make or break. The first up match after the Easter vacation is a top-of-the-table clash against the Strikers, there’s two trips to the north against the Fury and Heat.

The other matches are all tough tests against Brisbane Roar, Olympic, Western Pride and the all-Piddick derby against Palm Beach. If they can remain relatively unscathed during that period, glory days could be high on the agenda at Wolter Park but there’s still plenty of water to go under the bridge.