MONARO Panthers goal keeper James Bradbury says Wednesday’s NPL All-Stars match against the Newcastle Jets only served to highlight the quality of talent in the local Canberra competition.
Bradbury was one of two Monaro players to suit up for the All-Stars alongside winger Jonathan Toole.
And while the best of ACT’s Premier League ultimately fell to a 3-0 defeat, Bradbury said he’d seen little to suggest a gulf in class existed between Canberra’s finest and their A-League opponents.
“I actually played against Newcastle’s junior team when I was with ANU and some of the junior players from then were playing in their senior side [on Wednesday] which was interesting,” he said.
“Honestly I think it’s just that extra training, the fact they’re out there every day of the week and a bit of a weights program that’s the only difference.
“In terms of talent, I don’t think there was much of a gap there.”
Bradbury said Canberra’s lack of an A-League franchise made it more difficult for local juniors to receive the recognition and the opportunities they deserved.
“There are opportunities there but obviously they don’t come as often as if you lived somewhere like…Newcastle where [A-League] teams are always watching,” he said.
Bradbury played the second half of Wednesday’s contest and enjoyed a relatively quiet night in goals, making one save while conceding a goal to Newcastle’s Rhys Cooper.
The shotstopper highlighted the work of teammate Toole who he said had clearly proved himself as one of the All-Stars best.
“Jono was awesome as usual,” he said. “He got some good minutes and was definitely up there as one of the better players on the field.”
In this weekend’s Premier League action, the Panthers will take on cellar-dwellers Canberra City at Riverside Stadium on Sunday.
And while neither side remains in finals contention, Bradbury said Monaro still had plenty to play for.
“We don’t have a chance to make the finals but I still see it as a must-win,” he said.
“It’s about proving to the rest of the competition what we already know – that we’re going to be one of the better teams going around next year.”