Falcons set to take it to Manawatu

Last weekend's bye came just at the right time and the NZ King Salmon Nelson Falcons are primed and ready to finish the ASB Youth League season in strong fashion, according to Marlborough utility Taine Swete.

Sitting fourth of five teams on the league's southern conference ladder, the Falcons were not in action last Sunday following the previous weekend's 2-1 away loss to Canterbury United. Three round-robin games remain and every point is now crucial in keeping the Falcons' outside chance of making the league final alive.

Midfielder-defender Swete said the bye provided the ideal opportunity for some niggling injuries to heal and the team to mentally prepare for a big finish ahead of their round eight match against Youngheart Manawatu in Palmerston North tomorrow.

"It was good to have a bit of time off, nurse the injuries and reassess what we are going to do. The boys were pretty disappointed about the loss but, now that we have had time to reflect, we will come back strong and raring to go for Manawatu.

"We've discussed the [Canterbury] game and I thought we were a bit unlucky not to get a point, but that's just how football goes.

"We've decided to not look back and look forward to the next challenge, because if we win our next three games and play well like we know we can, the ladder could turn out different depending on other results."

Last season's Marlborough division one player of the year, Blenheim Valley club member Swete was also one of several young players, including fellow Marlborough-based Falcons Tore Waechter and Omar Guardiola, to thrive as part of the now defunct Marlborough Mariners. However, with Mariners no longer playing in Nelson division one competition, Swete said the Falcons had provided the higher level of football he craved.

"It has been an excellent environment that [coach] Davor [tavich] has created . . . it is high quality football and a lot faster and more intense than we are used to playing. It's been a good step up and I'm really enjoying it."

After years of playing rep football against Nelson, he said it had been enjoyable to join forces with his former rivals at the Falcons. "It's been pretty awesome. We all remember our clashes from when we used to play against each other, but getting to play with each other you come to understand how much you respect them and the football quality they have. They are all great lads."

The Falcons scored an emphatic 8-0 victory over Manawatu when the sides met in Nelson in round two. Since then, though, Youngheart have been improving and last weekend they lost 1-0 to conference leaders Canterbury in Palmerston North. Swete predicted it was not going to be an easy game for either team.

"Obviously we want to win our last three games and finish off on a high note. Being the inaugural season, if we can finish as high as possible we can show [NZ football] that we are not just a club that fills a spot, we can actually perform in this league."

There is one notable inclusion to the Falcons team for tomorrow. Daniel Grimshaw, the league's joint golden boot leader, makes his return from an injury he suffered during the round two win over Manawatu, when he scored five goals.

Nelson Falcons: Mark Johnston (C), Niall Young, Harry Tod-Smith, Taylor Hall-Jones, Taine Swete, Furkan Kokcu, Tore Waechter, Sam Maxwell, Omar Guardiola, Fletcher Slierendrecht, Coey Turipa (GK). Subs: Ashley Langbein, Daniel Grimshaw, Neil Mason, Nat Payn.

The Nelson Mail