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Morton upbeat despite losing start

Man on: Cecoy Robinson, left, holds off a Town marker at Police Field (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Scott Morton, the PHC Zebras coach, has shrugged off his team’s first defeat under his stewardship.

Zebras, the cup holders, squandered two leads in a 4-2 defeat against Morton’s former club, Dandy Town, during Sunday’s final round of Dudley Eve Trophy group matches at Police Field.

But despite losing a high-scoring affair, Morton said there were plenty of positives for his players to take away from their performance.

“The things we talked about the players did their best to execute it, such as stopping players from playing in certain areas,” Morton said. “A lot of the priorities we talked about came out of that match.”

The outcome might have been entirely different had PHC capitalised on a plethora of scoring opportunities, which ultimately came back to haunt them.

“In our first game [against Boulevard] it was the exact same thing; we missed five clear chances in both matches and if you can convert those chances then it’s a whole different match,” Morton said. “It knocks the steam out of your opponents most times and at the end of the day you are grateful you got into those positions and you scored those opportunities.”

Although he would have preferred for his players to make the most of their chances, Morton took some comfort in their ability to create numerous scoring opportunities against one of the best defences in domestic football.

“The key thing when you play football is create chances to give your players opportunities to score,” Morton said.

“For me, it’s putting them in those positions to be able to have scoring opportunities and the rest is on them. At that moment nobody can coach that composure you need, the insight you need based on where the goalkeeper is positioned and the type of shot and technical ability you need to execute the end result.”

Perhaps most concerning for Morton was his team’s poor defending.

“A lot of people look at defending as the four players in that defence,” he said. “No, it’s team defence and we have to do a lot better with that.

“Conceding four goals I wasn’t happy with and we have to do a lot better with that because defending starts right from the front line.”

Morton is confident his team can quickly put the defeat behind them and bounce back.

“It’s only our second game and so I’m not making too much from the loss because we are not concerned about the end result, we’re concerned about winning the processes,” he said.

“My focus is always about winning the process and not the result. Results always take care of themselves because you have to respect that opponents come prepared, just as you do, and there’s other elements that can sway the result of a game.

“The only thing that you can control is the things you have worked on with the players and the philosophy that I bring, so from that standpoint they were spot on.

“Even though it was a cup game I just looked at it as our second match. It wasn’t even a cup game, to me it was just our second match and we just need to continue to build on the things we started in pre-season.”

Unbeaten Town clinched group A and will now face group B runners-up Devonshire Cougars in the semi-final, with unbeaten group B winners North Village facing defending champions and group A runners-up Zebras in the remaining semi-final.

A Dudley Eve Trophy semi-final double-header will be held at Goose Gosling Field on October 19, with Town going up against Cougars at 7pm and Village and Zebras at 9pm.

PHC beat Robin Hood 2-0 in last season’s Dudley Eve Trophy final at Wellington Oval to put an end to a seven-year trophy drought.