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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Greytown playing a numbers game

Greyfriars Motel Greytown coach Phil Keinzley cannot recall being in a more dire position with playing numbers heading into this afternoon’s opening Capital Division Two match away to Tawa Reserves.

Gone from last year’s squad that finished second in the third division are goal-scoring machine Josh Stevenson, who found the back of the net 32 times in 2023 and has returned to Hawke’s Bay, veteran defender Waisake Sabutu, goalkeeper Gary Hewson, and midfielders Nik Finlay and Andy Traill.

On top of that, new recruit Englishman Lloyd Whiteoak is out for five weeks with a knee injury, Gareth Gwyther is sidelined after dropping a steel plate on his foot, and Harvey Parker is struggling with concussion.

“Last year, I was struggling to whittle the squad down to 20, but this year, I’m sitting on 17 players and have no reserve goalkeeper,” Keinzley said.

“I would actually say that I’m in the worst shape going into a season than I’ve ever been – men’s, women’s, youth, boys or girls teams.”

In saying that, though, Keinzley is happy with how the team is progressing, especially with the support from the senior players.

“The bunch I’ve got are coming together as a unit, and they’re very supportive of each other. [Captain] Jarrod MacDonald has come out of the shadow of the others, and he’s really responded and stepped up.

“We need to do a lot of things differently and play players out of position to cover the holes.

Despite struggling for numbers, Keinzley is still aiming high, with the new Central League Second Division launching in 2025 as his target.

With no reserve teams allowed in the new league, which will comprise teams from the Capital and Central Federations, as many as five teams could be promoted from the second division, Keinzley said winning promotion remains his early season goal, but he added “the next two weeks will give me a feel of where we’re at.”

Another issue that has dogged the team in the buildup to the season has been finding a suitable training facility, and Kenizley has thanked Carterton AFC for making Howard Booth Park available for their training.

Today’s match against Tawa Reserves kicks off at Redwood Park, Tawa, at 12.30pm.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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