High flying Zebras look to continue win streak
PHC coach Kyle Lightbourne has urged his players to build on their encouraging start to the season when they face Dandy Town in the opening match of the Friendship Trophy at Devonshire Rec.
In the last meeting between the two sides recently, PHC came out on top in a thrilling 4-3 victory in the Dudley Eve and Lightbourne is looking for a repeat performance tonight from Zebras.
"We've played them once already this season," said Lightbourne. "It was a tight game, we managed to win in the last minute and we'll have to see what happens tomorrow night.
"We lost our first of match of the season to Boulevard in the Dudley Eve but that was more like a pre-season friendly. In our last few matches we've bossed it and that's been encouraging."
PHC have won all three of their league matches this season and are just one point behind leaders, Hornets, who have played a game more than Lightbourne's men.
The former Stoke City striker believes PHC are capable of winning silverware this term as long as they can keep their key players fit and healthy.
"We haven't got the biggest squad but if we keep our players healthy then I think we may have a chance," he said. "That'll be the key to things, trying to keep our players fit."
That PHC have managed to maintain an 100 percent record in the league without two of their most influential players, Omar Shakir and new signing Antwan Russell, makes their strong start to the campaign all the more impressive.
Shakir, who was banned for four matches, is available tonight while ex-Somerset Eagles striker Russell has to serve another three matches of his eight game suspension. Both players will serve as major boost for PHC when they return to action, Lightbourne said.
"We still have players to come in like Omar Shakir and Antwan Russell who have been out through suspension. They're two players who know this level pretty good and will improve our competition for places. Both those players will a big boost for us."
In the absence of the likes of Shakir and Russell, homegrown duo Khamisi Lightbourne and Idrees Sharieff have been given the opportunity to gain valuable first team experience.
The pair of teenage strikers terrorised Devonshire Cougars in PHC's last match with Sharieff finding the net with a strike from the edge of the box.
"We've got a couple of young guys who are doing quite well," said Lightbourne. "I've told them they're not going to be playing every game but right now they're in the squad so they need to keep performing."
PHC are currently involved in three competitions (Premier Division, Dudley Eve and Friendship Trophy) which Lightbourne believes is far too many for this early stage of the season.
"I'm a little disappointed the way the scheduling is. We're still in another competition and here we are starting up a new one," he said.
"That's something the BFA probably need to look at. You shouldn't be playing in three different competitions at the same time. It's hard to focus on doing well in all of them and you end up having to pick one to try and be successful in."
PHC take on Dandy Town at Devonshire Rec. at 9 p.m, while MR Onions face Hamilton Parish at 7 p.m.