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PHC ready for Boxing Day battle

The Friendship Trophy draw has not been kind to defending champions PHC. First they had to play in the preliminary round and now have been drawn against one of the top teams, Robin Hood for the Boxing Day semi-finals.

However, coach Scott Morton is not too fussed, knowing that his team will have two tough games to play if they are to retain the title they won last year. “I never consider any team more potent than another as far as being a tough draw,” Morton said.

“The way I like to look at it is it could prepare you for the next match if you are successful in getting through. It could be playing at a high level in a semi-final versus not doing that and getting into the final against a team that is one of the top teams.

“Every game I want it to be a top match, I'm happy that it is against Robin Hood, happy if it was Dandy Town or any other team. You can underestimate a team by thinking they are not a top team and then you get surprised, so mentally you must stay strong and focus on what your team can do.

“There are some things that are not in your control and you must remember that.”

PHC are again top of the Premier Division standings, a point ahead of Robin Hood after seven wins from their nine matches. Hood are unbeaten since their Charity Cup loss to PHC in early September before going on to win a first Dudley Eve Trophy last month.

The Zebras had midfielder Marco Warren back from an injury for Sunday's match against Somerset, last season's MVP playing 86 minutes before coming off as a precaution. Kieshon Bean, Jaylon Hassell, two first-team regulars last season, and Cole Hall are back from school to boost the team's numbers over Christmas, while Robin Hood have national squad player Liam Evans and Zuhri Burgess returning from school.

“Marco has been out for a while, at least four weeks, and based on the physio's assessment 60 minutes should be about his maximum, but I went over that a little bit,” Morton admitted.

“We decided to get him off to re-energise himself for this week. With his injury [groin] he just needs time and to manage his training minutes and activity in training to slowly progress him back into the team.”

Quinaceo Hunt, last season's Goalkeeper of the Year, is also back from abroad, but is not likely to see action for the Zebras in this competition. “He's not able to play, he's in an academy overseas and we can't risk him with what he is trying to do,” Morton explained.

The elimination of Somerset and North Village in the last round means that PHC have the chance to become the most successful team in the Friendship Trophy.

Right now all three teams have 11 wins, but Morton insists his team won't be focusing on that twelfth title.

“I wasn't aware, haven't mentioned it to them and definitely won't mention it to them,” Morton said. “I just think that puts unnecessary expectations on players.

“They just have to look at this game, just do their job and collectively as a team we need to support each other. The result is the icing on the cake.”

By the time PHC and Robin Hood take to the field at Lord's on Wednesday, they will know who the opposition in the final will be as Dandy Town and Boulevard will meet in the first semi-final tomorrow at Devonshire Rec.

In the Boxing Day Shield semi-final, Hamilton Parish will take on Devonshire Colts.

“I love playing over the holidays, I think it is an exciting time, especially getting to see overseas players come back, participate and help boost the squad,” Morton said.

“Players, for one reason or another, get a bit worn out and it is good to keep things fresh.”

Together again: Kieshon Bean (left) is back from school for Christmas to rejoin Jaheim Iris and his other PHC teammates for the Friendship Trophy semi-final on Boxing Day (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

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Published December 22, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated December 21, 2018 at 9:58 pm)

PHC ready for Boxing Day battle

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