PHC aim to capitalise on Village slip-ups
PHC coach Kyle Lightbourne has turned up the heat on Premier Division league leaders North Village, insisting the title is theirs to lose.
The Zebras coach was keen to deflect the pressure away from his team who are just three points behind the Rams with five league matches remaining this season.
They defeated Somerset Eagles 2-0 at the Southampton Oval on Sunday to close the gap on Shaun Goater’s side who Lightbourne believes are still firmly in the box seat.
“I mean the pressure is not on us because we messed up earlier in the season. The pressure is on Village now to try and stay out in front,” said Lightbourne, whose team take on Village in the Friendship Trophy semi-finals at BAA Field on Thursday night.
Lightbourne, a close friend of Goater, has no doubt Village have been the best team this season but has backed Zebras to capitalise on any slip ups during the run-in.
“They’ve been the best team this season so far, we can only take it one game at a time and try and put ourselves in a position to take of advantage of any mistakes. There’s only three points in it and we’ve still got to play Village who will probably be kicking themselves for dropping a few points recently,” he said.
Village, who last won the Premier Division in 2006, agonisingly lost the title by a single point on the final game of last season to Dandy Town, having led for much of the campaign.
And PHC skipper Omar Shakir hopes that painful memory could cause Village to stubble again during the business end of this campaign.
“Sure. Anyone in our position would be hoping the same thing so that’s no secret,” he said. “We want to do everything we can to get maximum points from our remaining games and then we’ll see where the chips fall.
“I wouldn’t say we are quietly confident because village are a good side and shouldn’t be taken lightly. At this point, unfortunately, we have to be more hopeful than confident because our destiny is not totally in our own hands.”
PHC are not the only team with Village in their sights. Defending champions Dandy Town are only four points adrift following their 3-1 win over Devonshire Colts at Police Field on Sunday. Shakir though is only concerned with PHC’s results and believes the title will be awarded to the team that manages to best hold their nerve.
“In all honesty, I don’t even know where the other teams are in the league ... it’s all about which team can hold their nerve,” he Shakir. “That’s been my approach all season long. I’ve only been focused on PHC and whoever is on top of us.It’s no disrespect to the other teams and the impact they have on the title race. Looking over your shoulder too often in a race can be a bad thing sometimes so I prefer to keep my eye on the target in front, knowing that if we keep winning games, what’s behind won’t matter in the end.”