The Warkworth Men’s first team is still looking to compete for a top four spot in the NFF Men’s Conference football competition, despite losing their first three matches of the season.
Team manager Cam Gray says the first game of the regular season, a 5-1 loss to Lynn Avon AFC, took the team by surprise.
“We can never get the entire first team together for the pre-season, so our first few regular season matches are always a tester for us,” he says.
“It puts us on the back foot to start with so the next few games are very important, but there is still plenty of time left to go in the season.”
The team had a closer second outing, losing 1-0 to Beachlands Maraetai, before being dispatched by South Auckland Rangers at home 7-0.
“We played good football in the second game and just couldn’t finish, and then South Auckland just outclassed us.
“The foundation for a good side and the potential is there, we just need to get the execution right.”
Cam isn’t too worried about the formation they play in, which has varied between matches, but believes getting the right 11 players on the pitch to start with is key.
He says one positive so far has been the introduction of more young players to the first team environment, something he highlighted as a goal at the end of last season.
“We had more 17th grade players turn up to senior training at the start of the season and, even though they aren’t ready for men’s football yet, they have been exposed to the quality they will need in future.”
Two young players who did make the men’s team are Sam Stephens, who proved to be a talent last season, and Mats Beckmann from Germany who joined this year.
The team has also welcomed back former Warkworth player and centre back Gareth Southcombe, who has taken over the captaincy from Rob Carty.
Cam says another positive is a better relationship between the first team and reserve team, who share players to cover positions as necessary.
The reserves have enjoyed a better start to their season, drawing two matches and beating South Auckland Reserves 4-1.
Team manager Ross Miller says they’ve got a stronger side this year that consistently attends training.
“There are no weak links in the team this year and so far we’ve played consistently well each week, which was a goal for us,” he says.
“Ultimately we want to win the competition and I’m feeling confident that we can do that at this stage.”
Ross says their biggest challenge in future weeks will be maintaining good discipline and keeping players injury free, to make sure the best possible team can be fielded in every match.