HE'S had his issues with injury, but Ryan Campbell showed why he is still a big asset for Western NSW FC when helping them to salvage a draw a 1-all draw against Nepean FC on Saturday.
Campbell's strike - which came with four minutes remaining in the clash at Lithgow's Marjorie Jackson Field - also helped Western to its first points of the National Premier Leagues 4 season.
"He's coming back from injury and it's really good to have him back. He showed his class towards the end, with that speed and power he's got, he got in behind the defence and finished," Western coach Mark Rooke said.
"He's had chronic hamstring injuries the last couple of seasons and he gets to a point in matches when I think the fatigue kicks in and that creates the small tears.
"It's not as though they are bad injuries, but they just take a few weeks to get over."
While Campbell is still playing limited minutes, his goal on Saturday will come as a confidence boost. It also served to lift the morale of his team-mates after they went winless through the first four rounds of the season.
"We are working him back into games at the moment with 30 minutes here, 20 minutes here and even at training we are monitoring him. We know what quality he can provide," Rooke said.
"The smile on his face and chatting to him after the game, certainly he realised how to do it at this level. He was pleased he got the equaliser - under pressure with defenders coming on his back, yeah it was good.
"We're moving forward, we've had a few changes to personnel ... so I always knew it was going to be a tough start to the season with our preparation, but we showed on Saturday, even though we didn't have our full squad, we are competitive."
It was Nepean who opened scoring in Saturday's match via Ben Welch, a striker that Rooke rates highly.
But Western continued to work hard, creating chances throughout before Campbell managed to come up with the equaliser.
"They scored fairly early on. We just switched off defensively against one of best strikers in the competition and he clearly punished us," Rooke said.
"We threatened the whole half, they did as well, the game was quite open and both teams had their opportunities throughout the game. In the end it was disappointing not to collect three points, but to me a draw was a fair result.
"I felt that was a really good reward for what we put into the game.
"The boys took onboard our game plan initially and then we changed a few things at half-time, we implemented that and to be able to execute in the second half was really good."
The Western under 20s side also had a good day in Lithgow as they posted a 6-0 victory over Nepean, the result their first win of the season.
Both Matt Beattie and Bevan Foxall scored twice in the win, while Kyle Cumming and Sam Blatch also got their names on the scoresheet.
WESTERN NSW FC 1 (Ryan Campbell) drew with NEPEAN FC 1 (Ben Welch)
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