Fast start Falcons' goal

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 12:00 19/01/2013

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The Nelson Falcons will look to overcome the sluggish starts that have hindered their short existence in order to claim all three points in their second home match at Trafalgar Park tomorrow.

The Falcons had to come from two goals down to draw their opening ASB Youth League fixture, but the plan is to be on the ball from first touch at 2pm against YoungHeart Manawatu.

Fans at the free event last week were treated to an entertaining comeback, but coach Davor Tavich wants to impress in another manner against Manawatu, by dominating from the start.

"We want to get the maximum points out of this game, so we will have to be attacking-minded," said Tavich.

"We have had problems with our intensity at the beginning of games. It is a major problem and we have addressed that with the boys.

"When you fall behind and have to chase, you lose composure and start to panic . . . This week I think you will see us start strong."

The Nelson Falcons and Manawatu met twice in the pre-season tournament in Palmerston North, with the record standing at one apiece. There was not the same intensity as in the national league proper, both coaches toying with combinations.

Manawatu were well beaten at home in their opening fixture against Otago United last weekend, while Nelson drew 2-all with reigning champions Canterbury United. Rather than have their confidence shaken, Tavich said, Manawatu's 4-1 loss would see them to come out swinging.

"They will be really keen and really dangerous. Like any other game in this league, we will have to be on top of this game for 90 minutes."

In the five-team southern conference, each team plays the other once home and away for a total of eight games, before the top-placed team takes on the northern conference winners in the final. Given the Falcons will play the second of four home games tomorrow, Tavich said picking up maximum points was crucial.

"We are playing at home and it is a short competition, so we have to treat every game like it is a knockout."

In order to give themselves the best chance of claiming three points, Tavich said the Falcons could not afford to go behind early again. He said starting slowly was a problem that had plagued the side since they first took the pitch in pre-season, and it was one they were determined to change.

Changes have been made to address this issue, bringing in players who can turn defence into attack swiftly. Nelson seek to put the pressure on from the outset tomorrow, the same as they heaped on Canterbury in the final 30 minutes last Sunday.

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After impressing last week, Taine Swete (midfield) and Niall Young (left back) have been promoted to the starting XI, while Lian Cinzah and Hal Fish come into the reserves.

Fletcher Slierendrecht moves to the bench, with Neil Mason and Jamane Wilson-Duggan dropping out of the match day group altogether.

Taylor Hall-Jones, 19, of the Lower Hutt City club, brings two years of national youth league experience into a side that will be without Erik Panzer, who has returned to the United States. Hall-Jones comes into the team for the first time this week and will start at right back.

"Taylor brings us a lot of experience. Technically he is a good player and he reads the game well and he is quite attacking. When Taine came on last week, he showed he deserved to start, and Niall brings physicality and is really positive going forward."

Tavich made special mention of the support the team received against Canterbury United. He said they had been buoyed by the bumper crowd and he hoped another healthy attendance would turn out to see the Falcons hunt down their first victory.

Entry to Trafalgar Park tomorrow is free. The gates open at 11.30 for the curtain raiser game between FC Nelson Spurs and a Marlborough FTC team. Kick-off in the ASB Youth League match between the Nelson Falcons and YoungHeart Manawatu is at 2pm.

Nelson Falcons: Mark Johnston (c), Coey Turipa (gk), Fox Slotemaker, Furkan Kokcu, Daniel Grimshaw, Niall Young, Omar Guardiola, Nat Payn, Taine Swete, Tore Waechter, Taylor Hall-Jones; Bench: Harry Tod-Smith (vc), Fletcher Slierendrecht, Sam Maxwell, Lian Cinzah, Hal Fish.

- The Nelson Mail

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