Strengthened Paget hope to launch season
Winless Paget could have goalkeeper Jason Smith and striker Dion Stovell out for their first appearances of the season now that they have had their break after a long cricket season.
Stovell, whose goals helped Paget gain promotion last season as he was voted First Division MVP, is set to be in the squad for tomorrow’s bottom-of-the-table match with Boulevard, while Smith could step into the No 1 spot to boost a defence that let in seven goals in their first two games. Smith was last year’s First Division Goalkeeper of the Year.
“Prior to the end of the cricket season we had about seven players also involved in cricket and they made it known to us that they were going to play the season straight through,” explained Mike Stovell, the Paget president and team manager.
“Robert Richardson played for PHC up until the last Twenty20 match and then went on vacation, Jason Smith played up until Somerset Bridge were eliminated and he and his family went on vacation. Dion, as you know, played open cricket, Premier Division, Twenty20, Cup Match, every county and internationals and he told us in mid-August that his body is hurting.
‘Robert came back in last week, Jason should be back this weekend and we’re hoping that Dion could be in on Sunday. That will strengthen the spine of the team 100 per cent.
“If you looked at our two games, it wasn’t like we were outplayed. Yes, fitness took a toll on us after about the 70th minute, but with matches coming and more physical training, we should be good. There is no panic in the team yet.
“On Sunday, up until the 65th minute, it was 1-1. Give us another game or two and we should be on a roll.”
Dandy Town and X-Roads will both visit Goose Gosling Field this weekend as they look to make it three wins out of three at the top of the table.
Town make the short journey tonight to meet a Robin Hood side that is finding their stride again after a recent setback with the loss of one of their top young players, Mazhye Burchall to a bike crash. Town are doing in the league what they failed to do in the Dudley Eve Trophy, where they lost both their matches. However, wins over promoted sides BAA and Paget helped them get into a rhythm for what will no doubt be their toughest match so far.
X-Roads play BAA tomorrow at the same venue, looking for their third win on the trot and possibly sole possession of first place in the early weeks of the season. X-Roads didn’t get their first ever win in the top division last season until their fourth game when they beat fellow promotion side Young Men’s Social Club.
They finished the campaign in eighth place, just missing a Dudley Eve spot by two points, but coach Farid El Karfa feels they can do better now that their squad is more complete with the signings of Donavan Thompson and Jahron Dickinson from St George’s.
“I see no reason why we shouldn’t be more ambitious this season, we are ambitious to achieve a better position in the league and just need to take it one game at a time,” El Karfa said after last weekend’s win over North Village where Thompson scored twice and Dickinson the other in a 3-2 win.
Thompson is enjoying his new surrounding and looking forward to making his mark as a top marksman this season. He is one of the most underrated players in the Premier Division and last season X-Roads let him know they were watching him.
“It has been a while but every now and then they came to spy on me,” he revealed. “The president came three or four times and even went to my daddy.
“Yes, I’m very underrated, but those who see me know the truth,” said Thompson who insists he isn’t thinking too much about representing his country.
“I’m not too focused on the national team right now. I’m focused with these guys, they believe in me.
“I live in Southampton but travel down [to Smith’s Parish]. I love these men, love playing with these guys. I don’t think I’ve missed a training session yet with these guys. There is more work to be done, the job isn’t over yet.”
BAA, after a slow start against Town when they lost 4-1, produced a better showing in their next match, thrashing Boulevard 6-1 as Keishen Bean, the new signing, opened his BAA account with a hat-trick.
In the other two matches, PHC will host North Village at PHC Field while Devonshire Cougars welcome Somerset to Devonshire Rec for their second meeting of the early season. The Trojans won that first match, 2-0 in the Dudley Eve, and are now desperate to get their first league points.
Flanagan’s Onions play Somerset Eagles at Goose Gosling Field in the top First Division match on Sunday. Flanagan’s are level on seven points with leaders Southampton Rangers while Eagles are three points back in third place.
Southampton Rangers play winless St George’s at Wellington Oval while St David’s entertain Devonshire Colts at Lord’s. Ireland Rangers meet Hamilton Parish at Malabar Field, with Wolves playing Young Men’s Social Club at Garrison Field in their other match.
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