Walsh and co all set for crunch NPL clash

The PGFC Academy First Team continue to lead the Football West NPL and this weekend they travel to Frank Drago Reserve for a top-of-the-table clash with last season’s champions, Bayswater City.

A last-minute goal forced Glory to settle for a share of the spoils against Floreat Athena last time out, but they remain unbeaten in nine games, while Saturday’s opponents will be desperate to snap a run of three consecutive defeats that have derailed their quest for back-to-back titles.

Set to play a key role for the visitors against City is rangy defender Daniel Walsh, one of eight players to have been handed their senior NPL debuts this season, all of whom are aged under 19.

The 15-year-old has been colossal at the heart of the back four this term, forming a great partnership with Luke Bodnar.

And the pair, along with the rest of the defence, have played a key role in John Gibson's side conceding only 23 goals, the third-best record in the competition.

Walsh, like the rest of his teammates, was disappointed to let the lead slip last week against Floreat, but insisted that the group will learn from the experience.

“I thought overall it was a solid performance from the team," he said.  "We created many chances, but failed to make the most of them and a few lapses in concentration cost us.

“It’s tough to take, conceding from those situations, as it’s something we focus on heavily and worked on throughout the week. But we take it as a learning experience and our focus turns now to Bayswater on Saturday where we will look to maximise ourselves for the full 90 minutes and eliminate the cheap errors in key moments of the game that cost us last week.”

The youngster began his football at Western Knights, before moving to Sorrento and then joining Glory in 2014 and has represented the Glory Academy teams in the FFA National Youth Championships in Coffs Harbour and the NTC Challenge in both 2016 and 2017. 

And he's quick to acknowledge how the club's coaching staff and the senior players in the group have helped with his rapid development.

“Personally, it has been a big step for me moving in to the first-team environment after being in the under-18s only five months ago," he said. "It wasn’t easy making the change, but Gibbo [John Gibson] and the staff, as well as the senior guys in the team, have really helped me and the other young lads fit in.

“The young boys coming through have been in and around the first-team environment for the last nine months, so they have been well prepared when their opportunity came.”

In terms of Saturday's pivotal clash with Bayswater, Walsh is confident that Glory can claim a positive result.

“It’s a big occasion on Saturday, but nothing will change in our preparation and mindset,”he said. “We’ll approach the game with the same self-belief and confidence we’ve had all season, knowing we can put in a performance if we focus on us and what we can control and stick to our processes.”

Gibson, meanwhile, feels that Walsh's emergence exemplifies the club's commitment to blooding young talent.  

"We always provide opportunities to young players to step up to senior football and this year is no different," he said, "but the more senior young players also deserve praise as they lead and drive the environment and the program. It’s been tremendous recently to continue our momentum and consistency of performances.

"We are a close-knit group and all our squad have been on the journey for a few years and it's good to see them being rewarded. They’ve embraced all the challenges and are always looking to improve.

"In terms of Saturday, we always have a tight and tough contest against Bayswater. The game will present many challenges and we will be prepared. We respect everyone and will continue with our normal aggressive mentality."

Glory's Under-18s and Under-20s will also be in action at Frank Drago Reserve, with their games starting at 11am and 1pm respectively ahead of the First Team fixture which kicks off at 3pm.

So do get along and lend the lads your support if you can.

#OneGlory