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PHC focused on homecoming triumph

Field of dreams: Zebras will play at PHC Stadium for the first time in the Premier Division for more than a decade when they take on Village this weekend(Photo by Mark Tatem)

It is not exactly a new ground but it will feel like one to many in attendance for Sunday’s first football match at PHC Stadium since March 1998.

PHC host North Village in their return to Stadium Lane and for the players of both teams it will be the first time playing a match there.

Even Johnny Ball, the PHC president and left back, was not old enough to play a senior game there 17 years ago.

PHC’s cricket team have been staging matches at the venue during the last couple of seasons, along with junior and Masters football games.

“The players are extremely excited about being the generation that reopens the pitch [for senior football],” Mark Wade, the PHC coach, said.

Wade, was a player in that 1997-98 season when the team suffered the fate of relegation.

“There’s definitely been a buzz in training sessions, and of course we want a victory.

“We’re just trying to keep the team focused on the job at hand and making sure we do well. The division is very tight.

“We did all our pre-season training here [PHC Stadium], so the players are familiar with the surface. We played all our practice matches here as well. The lights won’t be ready this season, that’s another project.”

Just a point and two places separate the teams in the standings where PHC sit fourth, four points behind surprise leaders Hamilton Parish.

Both teams briefly held top spot before sixth-place Village began slipping down the table. Their 4-2 victory over Flanagan’s Onions in their last league outing ended Village’s slump as they climbed ahead of Onions and Robin Hood in the table.

Parish will look to consolidate their position at the top when they travel to Goose Gosling Field to meet third-from-bottom Onions in a match that has been switched from Saturday night to Sunday.

Interestingly, Parish have scored just 11 goals this season, fewer than the other teams in the Premier Division, averaging just a goal a game.

However, combined with the stingiest defence, conceding just ten goals, Parish have managed to win more than half their matches.

Their opponents are joint highest scorers along with Dandy Town with 24 goals although the 26 goals they have conceded is the most in the division.

Town will hope to continue their climb up the table when they travel to Somerset Trojans.

St George’s will welcome Southampton Rangers to Wellington Oval for a bottom-of-the-table clash. They played to a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup last weekend and are scheduled to meet again in the replay on February 3.

Devonshire Cougars and Robin Hood play on Monday night in the Premier Division at Devonshire Recreation Club at 9pm.

The home team will be looking to salvage something from their season after suffering a home defeat to Onions in the first round of the FA Cup last weekend.