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PHC refuse to rest on laurels

Scott Morton,PHC Zebras coach (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

PHC’s record eleventh league title was wrapped up with games to spare, but that does not mean they will be taking their foot off the pedal in their final two home games.

Scott Morton, who has now won back-to-back league, Friendship Trophy and Charity Shield titles, and the FA Cup in his three years as PHC coach, insists high standards will be maintained when the Zebras close out their season with home matches against Dandy Town and Paget. Since replacing Mark Wade in April 2016, Morton has also had three top-two finishes in the Premier Division.

“I always have high expectations, you never know if you’re going to win competitions, but I always expect my teams to be involved in them to the very end,” Morton said ahead of this weekend’s match against his former team at PHC Field.

The presentation of the league title will be made during the Paget match on April 7.

“I’m appreciative of the work the players have put in and the support the club has given, which has allowed us to get to this position,” Morton added.

“I’m deeply humbled to be at PHC, with the history that they have, and now to be able to accept the pressure that comes with that job.

“PHC has a championship- winning culture, gaining major trophies along the way.

“I wanted to make sure I continued that legacy and so far I think I have met up to those standards.”

The twelfth Friendship title won this season was also a record, breaking a three-way tie with North Village and Somerset for most wins, which stood since 2016 when the Trojans joined them and Village on 11 wins, ironically beating PHC 2-1 in the final.

The Trojans shocked them last weekend when they came from behind to win 2-1, meaning that the PHC league title celebrations had to be delayed. The next day Village did them a favour, taking points off Robin Hood to ensure PHC of the title.

They are now looking for wins in their last two matches to surpass the 42 points they amassed last season.

“The thing about it I had a family day out because we were off on Sunday and wasn’t on my phone for anything, just focusing on the family,” Morton said. “Then, about five o’clock, I picked up the phone and saw a lot of messages come through on the chat group, everybody saying congratulations, though I didn’t know what they were saying congratulations for.

“When I looked and saw that Robin Hood had drawn with North Village, I knew it had sealed it for us. It didn’t feel the same as like on a day when you’re playing and you get to celebrate with your players and fans.

“It still doesn’t feel real yet, not until whenever the association decides to bring the trophy to us. Our mentality now is we have two matches and need six points.

“There’s no way we’re going to put the integrity of the league in jeopardy by putting out a youth team. It will be full- strength the whole way to make sure we end on a good note, just like we started.”

PHC will be wary of Dandy Town aiming to do the double over them, after handing them their first league loss back in December.

“We kind of settled that score in the Friendship final,” Morton said proudly of the 5-2 win on New Year’s Day.

“Again, it will be another tough match. If we concentrate on the performance, the result will take care of itself.”

That win over PHC ended three straight losses for Town, who have won seven of their past nine league games to climb up to third in the table.

Top scorer Angelo Simmons needs just one goal to reach the 20-goal mark in the league this season. A draw for Robin Hood tonight against BAA will guarantee them the runners-up spot, which would be their fourth straight top-two finish.