Morton banking on team effort as Zebras hunt for record title
North Village are aiming to become the most successful team in Friendship Trophy history, as PHC Zebras look to join them and Somerset Trojans on 11 titles.
PHC have been the team to beat this season, unbeaten in all competitions, but coach Scott Morton insists his players will not get carried away before facing Village in the New Year’s Day final at Wellington Oval.
“The unbeaten stuff doesn’t get talked about, I don’t allow complacency,” he said. “If anything, it makes me more demanding on the players to make sure complacency doesn’t set in. To their credit, all of them step up to the demands that I’ve made on them.”
Morton spent some time at the second semi-final at Goose Gosling Field on Wednesday, a match Village won 3-2 against Devonshire Cougars.
“I only saw the first 20 or 30 minutes, it just poured and I was getting wet,” said Morton, whose side lost to Cougars in last year’s final. “If there was some shelter, I would have stayed.
“We never thought about who we would like to meet in the final because you can wish for one team and then that team beats you.
“You just apply yourself on the day for whatever team. Nothing changes for us as far as how we go about what we do; we don’t change our style for anybody. We just have to execute and be more decisive when we play.”
Cecoy Robinson, the PHC captain, netted the extra-time winner in their semi-final against Robin Hood on Boxing Day, after Marco Warren, arguably the Zebras’ best player this season, was fouled in the box. Robinson and Warren will have key roles to play against Village, but Morton insists they are not a two-man team.
“Cecoy and Marco are on the end of our plays and it is important to note that even before they get the ball, there are people who do the correct things to allow them to get into those finishing positions,” Morton said.
“They get the highlights because they put the ball into the back of the net, but our strength is our team and everybody has a role to play in helping them get into scoring positions.”
No doubt losing the last two Friendship Trophy finals has made PHC more determined to get a first title under their belt since beating Southampton Rangers in the 2008-09 final.
“Our players have enjoyed this experience over the last two years,” Morton said.
“Every day they show commitment and even though we are still undefeated, there are still players who want to get some time on the field.
“They still come to training committed. Last night, I had 22 players, so it’s a total team effort. When you have that amount of players training, it makes for quality sessions.
“When you have numbers like that, you can vary the training sessions and you have so many options, components of your game that you can work on.
“Christmastime, we have the college players back, but we are always averaging 16 to 20 players a session.”
PHC will still have the target on their backs when the second half of the campaign begins, as they push for a first league title in ten years.
They are one title behind Somerset Trojans, the most successful club on ten.
“Psychologically, we have to stay level, stay humble, grounded, keep working hard and just think about the next match,” Morton added. “The focus is always on the next match and how we can improve.”
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