Department of Youth
BUNDABERG Toyota Spirit Youth team coach Steve Bates was beaming after they drew 1-1 with heavyweights Brisbane Strikers in their first trial match of the year on Saturday.
Brendan Davis drew first blood for the Spirit in about the 15th minute, with an assist from Bates' son Jeremy on his club debut, but while the Strikers equalised before half-time, neither side was able to break the deadlock in the second half.
Although satisfied with a draw, Bates said giving up leads was something they must work on.
“They had the opportunity to snatch the game in the first half hit – they hit the post twice and goal-keeper Daniel Smith pulled off some good saves as well,” Bates said.
“By the same token, in the second half, we could have sealed the game – we had two one-on-ones, one which found the keeper quite easily which we should have finished and one which hit the woodwork.
“But any time you come away with a 1-all draw with a team the calibre of Brisbane Strikers and the pool of players they can draw from, you have got to be reasonably pleased.
“After last year, an early goal is probably a bit of a common thing, but what we need to do this year is ensure that when we are the first to score, which we have proven to do on a regular basis, we need to consolidate and control the tempo of the game.
“We need to build on that rather than give away the lead lightly, but all in all, we have had a terrific preparation for this year.
“We have only five lads from last year, so it is essentially a new-look side but I am very, very pleased with the balance of the team at this stage.
“Ben Owen missed most of last season after sustaining an injury but I expect him to be a real key player, and there are some good young fellows coming up from Wide Bay last year to help bolster the side such as Daniel Burns and Jeremy Bates.
“We've also got Jordan Poole who is new to Bundy but is an ex-state player, a few good new locals boys including Jake Davis, Joel Haack who is only 14, and we've got ourselves a new shadow goalkeeper Jarrod Farraway, and he's an exciting prospect.”
Bates said he and new assistant coach Nog Connolly have still “got a bit of work to do defensively and in attacking shape”.
“But having included the 19s in every pre-season activity with the senior side makes a big difference, and we will all go to Agnes Water for a boot camp next weekend and the juniors are really looking forward to that,” he said.
Before that, the side will play an exhibition match against North Bundaberg's Premier League team at St Luke's Anglican School this Saturday at 3pm.
“We are looking forward to getting back into the public arena and showing the locals what we have got,” Bates said.
“It will also be a good opportunity to have a good look at Jarrod Farraway – he comes from North Bundaberg and he will play for them.”