The PGFC Academy teams are back in Football West NPL action on Saturday when they visit Grindleford Reserve to take on Balcatta.
The first team are in fine form with only one defeat in their last seven games and it’s been built on tight defence, which has only conceded 15 goals for the season, which is the second least in competition.
'Keeper Jackson Lee had another clean sheet last week in the impressive 2-0 win against Perth Soccer Club, and the 16-year-old was quick to praise his back four who have been outstanding over the past month with Luke Bodnar, Walter Scott, Ollie Annis, Sam Riak and Riley Warland all having shared the roles. “I thought we put in a really mature performance last week coming up against a side that has contended for the title in the last couple of years, so it was really pleasing to get the win,” he said.
“As a defensive unit we dealt with the counter-attack well, which is a difficult style to defend but we were solid at the back. Sometimes in football it’s hard to have major parts of the possession and in previous years we may have become frustrated in that situation and given away cheap goals, but we were patient enough to break them down and it paid off in the end.
“The clean sheet is definitely something we’ve been working to put together over the last month and to have two in a row is awesome. It’s not just the back four and I, I think it has a lot to do with the midfielders dropping back to defend and the attackers applying pressure on their defence when they’re playing out, so it’s definitely a team effort. Hopefully, we can string some more together, that’s definitely one of our goals for the second half of the season.”
Jackson noted the side drew against Balcatta earlier in the season, but he believes they will go into the game confident they can get all three points.
“Balcatta are a quality side we’ve seen that, but we won’t be focusing on them, we’ll be looking at ourselves and how we can play our game to get the result,” he explained.
“Gibbo and the team have outlined some goals and keeping that pressure on the top two and breaking away from the rest is definitely beneficial in reaching those goals. I think that If we play together as one unit we can play any team off the park and Balcatta is no exception.”
Bodnar has been a standout in the heart of the defence and the 18-year-old said last week’s win against a strong Perth side showed how much the team has improved this season.
The defender said all the hard work the players and coaching staff have put in are starting to pay dividends, and added they go into every game without fear.
“I thought the win last week was great and well deserved. The result showed our control over the game,” he said. “It’s very pleasing to see us be able to earn another clean sheet and it's an improvement from last season and we want to keep as many as we can and we need to work hard to do that.”
Bodnar, who was invited to Joey’s training camp last season, and has been watched recently by the Joey’s coaching staff this season, said Saturday’s game is no different to last week.
“We treat every game the same so we will go to Balcatta looking to play good football, retain a clean sheet,” he said. “But most importantly get three points, it needs to be done.”
The Academy under 20’s and 18’s are also in action at Balcatta, with the 20’s side also in State League Reserves Cup Semifinal action on Monday afternoon. They take on ECU Joondalup at Alfred Skeet Reserve the home of Armadale Soccer Club, kicking off at 3 pm.