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Dalefield wary of big improvers

Amy Johnson, right, will miss the game against Northern United with a back injury. PHOTO/FILE

HOCKEY

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Dalefield coach Michael O’Connor is predicting a “tough old game” against Northern United at the National Hockey Stadium today.

Dalefield lead the women’s premier championship on 33 points, and Northern are fourth on 16 points.

Dalefield won their first-round encounter 6-0, but Northern have been the big improvers since, O’Connor said.

“I’ve watched them a few times. You can tell they’re enjoying their hockey, and are really motivated to do well,” he said.

“I see they beat Victoria last week and that will solidify their place in the top four.”

As well as beating third-placed Victoria, Northern pushed hard before losing 1-2 to second-placed Hutt United.

O’Connor expected Northern to give his team the tough game they needed at this time of the season, with only four rounds before the playoffs.

“We can be confident from the way we’ve been playing and the results we’re getting, but it’s just a bit hard when you play lesser teams, and you don’t know where your weaknesses are until you come under the pump a bit,” he said.

Dalefield have been in outstanding attacking and defensive form, having scored 61 games and conceded just eight goals in their 10 games whereas Northern have scored 21 and let in 24 goals.

Despite the disparity O’Connor said the team needed to be on their game “from the get-go to the last whistle”.

“Our defence has been really good, we’re the only team in single figures for letting in goals, and if we can keep that up, our attack takes care of itself.”

Striker Amy Johnson will miss her second consecutive game with a back injury, and Amy Bunny is a doubtful starter because of illness.

The women will be the only team in action today with the unbeaten men’s team enjoying the bye and the weekend off.

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