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Dandy Town and North Village eye place in Friendship Trophy final

Dandy Town and North Village will renew their rivalry in the semi-finals of the Friendship Trophy at Lord’s on Monday (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Aaron Denkins, the Dandy Town coach, says his team will have to be at their absolute best if they are to come away victorious in their Friendship Trophy semi-final clash with North Village at Lord’s on Monday.

Town ousted holders Devonshire Cougars in a penalty shoot-out in the previous round to set up another intriguing battle with the competition’s inaugural winners and 11-time champions.

“Village are one of the most organised teams in the league and they make themselves hard to beat,” Denkins said. “We will have to be at our best in order to compete and advance.

“We will prepare for them as we prepare for every match and hopefully we can play some attractive football and continue into the final.”

Village advanced to the last four after prevailing against Boulevard on penalties and will likewise be keen to make further inroads towards lifting the showpiece for the first time in a decade.

Town were at full strength in their previous outing against Cougars with the return of key players such as defender Eusebio Blankendal and goalkeeper Jaden Manders, who are back home for the holiday after studying abroad.

“It was a good win for the team and a good win for the fans,” Denkins said. “We definitely were back to full strength with the return of Eusebio, Jaiden, Enrique Swan and we welcomed Daniel Cook, who transferred over the summer, into the team.

“Jaiden, in particular, has been a miss and it was clear to everyone at the match why he was the goalkeeper of the year last season.”

“It was a tough game to lose on penalties, but that’s how the game goes. Even with our squad additions, Cougars created dangerous situations and we were lucky to have not conceded in regular time. They are one of the best in the league without a doubt.”

Meanwhile, Denkins is gradually settling back into his role as head coach of the Premier Division and FA Cup champions since being reappointed to the position when Jay Bean resigned recently just months after being appointed in the summer.

“The success of Dandy Town is always the priority for me and for the players so we all will shift as necessary,” he said.

Lightning has struck twice for Denkins, who was also forced to step in after Kwame Steede parted company with the club during their pre-season preparations the year before, and went onto enjoy a highly successful stint at the helm leading Town to the coveted league and FA Cup double to deservedly earn the Coach of the Year accolade.

Before being appointed as Town’s head coach, Denkins’ sole focus was on his role as the club’s technical director but he is now back to juggling both roles.

“The transition has been difficult for me personally because I shifted my mindset towards more technical aspects of football such as performance analysis and coaching education,” Denkins said.

“It has been difficult on the team with them shifting from my ideologies to the new coaches and now back again.”

Looking ahead to the second half of the 2022-23 campaign, Denkins added: “The second half of the season is going to be interesting as all teams have shown that they can compete with each other.

“As a high-performance club we want to continue to represent ourselves and our community in the best way we know how. We will compete to ensure that we are right there in all conversations.”

Monday’s Friendship Trophy semi-final clash at Lord’s will be preceded by the First Division Shield semi-final between Young Men’s Social Club and Ireland Rangers.

Somerset Trojans will face PHC Zebras in the remaining Friendship Trophy semi-final while Paget will clash with St David’s in the remaining First Division Shield semi-final at Bernard Park on Tuesday.

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Published December 24, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated December 24, 2022 at 7:38 am)

Dandy Town and North Village eye place in Friendship Trophy final

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