Tough warm-up match for Thistle

THISTLE coach Matt Hastings says his side will face their toughest test “to date” when they play Napier Marist in Napier tomorrow.

“This will be the strongest team we’ve faced in our build-up to the Central Federation campaign, which starts in two weeks,” said Hastings, who spent two years with Napier Marist as assistant to coach Jamie Dunning.

“They have held on to 85 to 90 percent of their squad and Jamie is a very good coach. I have a lot of respect for him.

“His players are young, fit and very good technically and tactically. It’s just the type of game we want before we go into the Federation games.”

Hastings, in his first full season as coach of the Jags, said he was “reasonably happy” with the progress of his team.

“You’re never completely happy but the boys are working hard in training and we’re starting to see the results, in regard to fitness, combinations and tactical awareness.”

The federation league starts next week but Thistle have a bye in the first round.

“We’d have preferred to play but it’ll give us a chance to see how the other teams get on,” Hastings said.

“Apart from Kieran Higham and Matt McVey, who are still recovering from ankle injuries, and Mark Baple, who has had some cleanout work done on his knee and won’t be ready for about three weeks, we’re OK injury-wise.”

With Baple out of contention, Ryan Majstrovic and PJ Goodlett have opportunities to stake their goalkeeping claims.

“Due to other commitments, Ryan hasn’t had as much game time as Baps and PJ, so he’ll start tomorrow and most likely play a full game,” Hastings said.

“Having the luxury of three top goalkeepers makes my job easier, but at the same time harder when it comes to picking the team.

“David Salmon is another who has not had a lot of minutes, due to cricket commitments. This game will be good for him.

“With a squad of 23 players, I have to strike a balance between giving players match time, not having too many disruptions and getting results — which is always my top priority.”

Hastings said he would prefer to play two 45-minute halves tomorrow, unlike other pre-season games which have consisted of three 30-minute spells.

“I’m hoping Napier will agree to two 45-minute halves.”

Thistle’s first game in the league is against Red Sox in Manawatu on April 8.

Their first home game, against Palmerston North Marist, is scheduled for April 15.

“That’s a Saturday,” Hastings said. “We’re still working with Central Football on getting our home games played on Sunday.”

THISTLE coach Matt Hastings says his side will face their toughest test “to date” when they play Napier Marist in Napier tomorrow.

“This will be the strongest team we’ve faced in our build-up to the Central Federation campaign, which starts in two weeks,” said Hastings, who spent two years with Napier Marist as assistant to coach Jamie Dunning.

“They have held on to 85 to 90 percent of their squad and Jamie is a very good coach. I have a lot of respect for him.

“His players are young, fit and very good technically and tactically. It’s just the type of game we want before we go into the Federation games.”

Hastings, in his first full season as coach of the Jags, said he was “reasonably happy” with the progress of his team.

“You’re never completely happy but the boys are working hard in training and we’re starting to see the results, in regard to fitness, combinations and tactical awareness.”

The federation league starts next week but Thistle have a bye in the first round.

“We’d have preferred to play but it’ll give us a chance to see how the other teams get on,” Hastings said.

“Apart from Kieran Higham and Matt McVey, who are still recovering from ankle injuries, and Mark Baple, who has had some cleanout work done on his knee and won’t be ready for about three weeks, we’re OK injury-wise.”

With Baple out of contention, Ryan Majstrovic and PJ Goodlett have opportunities to stake their goalkeeping claims.

“Due to other commitments, Ryan hasn’t had as much game time as Baps and PJ, so he’ll start tomorrow and most likely play a full game,” Hastings said.

“Having the luxury of three top goalkeepers makes my job easier, but at the same time harder when it comes to picking the team.

“David Salmon is another who has not had a lot of minutes, due to cricket commitments. This game will be good for him.

“With a squad of 23 players, I have to strike a balance between giving players match time, not having too many disruptions and getting results — which is always my top priority.”

Hastings said he would prefer to play two 45-minute halves tomorrow, unlike other pre-season games which have consisted of three 30-minute spells.

“I’m hoping Napier will agree to two 45-minute halves.”

Thistle’s first game in the league is against Red Sox in Manawatu on April 8.

Their first home game, against Palmerston North Marist, is scheduled for April 15.

“That’s a Saturday,” Hastings said. “We’re still working with Central Football on getting our home games played on Sunday.”

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