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Hood look to crash cup holders’ party

Robin Hood may be long odds to win a first Friendship Trophy this season, but in a season of strange results anything is possible.

Hood join Dandy Town and the two most successful teams in the Friendship competition — PHC and Somerset Trojans, the defending champions — in today's semi-final draw to determine the pairings for next weekend's matches.

Kyle Lightbourne, the Hood manager, said just being in the last four was an accomplishment in itself, considering his side only gained promotion back to the top division this season. Last season they reached the semi-final of the FA Cup before losing to eventual winners Dandy Town. Now they are looking to go one step further and reach their first major final.

“A cup run is a bonus because this time of year, with Christmas coming up, if you're not playing then training tends to drop off,” he said. “But, with us playing a league game on Sunday and then having another game on Boxing Day or the next day, that makes our training a little more enjoyable because there is something to build for.”

With Somerset and PHC both winning the Friendship ten times, along with four titles for Dandy Town, Robin Hood realise the other three teams are much more experienced at winning this competition. Hood will have a timely reinforcement of resources with college students available over Christmas.

“We have three or four guys who are coming back for the Christmas break and adding to the competition over that period and I'm hoping that will boost our squad,” Lightbourne said. “And hopefully they can be here for a couple of games in the second half of the season.

“They will all be difficult teams but I think we stand a better chance than we did last year, our squad has a lot more balance to it.”

Hood, whose main priority is survival this season, are fourth in the Premier Division on 12 points, having won three, drawn three, and lost two from their eight games. Their last game before the Christmas break is away to North Village on Sunday.

“We've been in every game except for the PHC game when they deserved their victory, comfortable winners on the day,” Lightbourne said. “Our other loss was against Hamilton Parish but that game was kind of tight for long periods when we had two goals disallowed.

“On the day Parish probably edged it but we can play better than we did on that day and we're looking forward to being in this cup, something we spoke about at the beginning of the season when we set ourselves little goals. We're approaching the halfway stage and we've met a few of the goals and just need to keep believing.

“Our main thing was to try to be very good at home and if you have a good home record it pretty much guarantees you staying in the league.

“We could do with getting a few more points away from home.”

Added Lightbourne: “We went down on 15 or 16 points before so four more wind would definitely keep us up, but if the teams below us keep winning then the margin gets higher and higher. We've got 12 points on the board which makes it easier for us.

“We feel we could have done better in a couple of games but there were a couple of games where we got lucky and got some points so we are probably right where we deserve to be. But as you can see, it is very tight. We would have expected teams likes Dandy Town and North Village, who have struggled a little bit this season by their standards, to be near the top.”

Another team who have been among the lead pack is PHC who also have some Christmas action to look forward to after beating Devonshire Cougars on penalty kicks in the Friendship quarter-final.

“Christmas is important and as entertainers we want to perform on the biggest stage and in terms of spectators Christmas is big,” Mark Wade, the Zebras coach, said, after his team's hard-fought victory on Sunday.

“I think the players want to play in front of that kind of audience, and then also keeping some continuity during the Christmas break. Hopefully we get some more college players back for this and the PDL Tournament.”

The draw for the Friendship and Shield semi-finals will be held at the BFA office, with last year's Shield finalists, Somerset Eagles and Devonshire Colts, in the final four along with improving BAA and Young Men's Social Club.

Moving on: Liam Evans, the Robin Hood midfielder, left, shields the ball from Gavin Thomason, of Flanagan's Onions, during Sunday's Friendship Trophy quarter-final at Goose Gosling Field. Hood won 3-2 and are in today's semi-final draw

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Published December 17, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated December 16, 2014 at 11:02 pm)

Hood look to crash cup holders’ party

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