Goater: We enjoy pressure of leading
North Village coach Shaun Goater insists his players are relishing the pressure that comes with being the team to beat ahead of their Friendship Trophy semi-final tonight.
The league leaders take on PHC at BAA Field at 9 p.m. and Goater knows their opponents will be looking for revenge having been dismantled by Village 7-1 in their last meeting.
“It’s not going to be an easy game, we expect a tough encounter against PHC,” said Goater, whose side are the defending Friendship Trophy champions.
“Even when we beat them comfortably in December there were defining moments when they had chances early on which could have changed the complexion of the game.”
Zebras and Dandy Town are still breathing down Village’s necks who are three points clear at the top of the Premier Division with five games remaining. They had the title snatched from under their noses on the final weekend of last season by Hornets, but Goater’s adamant there’s no danger of his team losing their nerve this time around.
“I think the players enjoy (the pressure). Village are always expected to be there or thereabouts, our players are used to that,” said Goater.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position to be title favourites and that’s corrective with how our opponents are thinking. It’s possible it could go down to the wire again but these are the games our players want to be part of. These are the games you should enjoy because they mean everything.”
Goater is no stranger to pressure football having starred at the top level as a striker for Manchester City. He said the team that held their nerve and remained calm during the business end of the season usually prevailed.
“When everyone else is going a bit crazy you need to hold your nerve and keep your calmness,” said Goater, whose side won the Dudley Eve Trophy earlier this season. “When our players actually cross the line they do go into that mode, but nothing’s a given because you still have to earn every point. When you cross the line it’s business, you have to get the job done and I’m confident in my players.”
Village have no injury worries for tonight’s match and Goater admits he has been experiencing a few selection headaches of late.
“I’ve got a clean bill of health so I’ve got a few tough decisions to make and that’s a nice position to be in,” he said. “I’ve had to manoeuvre a few players around to keep others active and they’ve come in and done as well if not better than the guys they’ve replaced.
“There’s plenty of competition for players in the Village dressing room at the moment and I think the players are enjoying that.”
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