POSSESSION soccer will be the key to St Pats’ AWFA season.
The wooden spooners have lost two of their established stars, with up-and-coming keeper Stefan Galanakis heading to Albury City and playmaker Shane Anderson returning to Albury United.
But coach Andy Stevens is upbeat about a squad likely to include former Myrtleford midfielder Chris Mitchell.
“There will certainly be a greater emphasis on holding onto the ball — it’s pretty simple, if we’ve got it the opposition can’t hurt us,” he said.
“Last year we gave up too many goals from simple mistakes.
“Our other issue was that we ran out of legs.
“We are a long way ahead of where we were at the same time last year with our fitness — our program that started in early January with drills and sessions involved in game-situation running.
“Stefan and Shane are big losses — but if Chris Mitchell comes to the club we can offset the loss in the midfield.
“But quality keepers are as rare as hen’s teeth and Galanakis was certainly looking like he was going to be among the better ones.”
Stevens said the signs were good in a recent practice match against Griffith.
The Patties will also play in this weekend’s pre-season Andronicos Cup.
“We were playing the style of football we have been working on and there were positive signs,” he said.
“We have built depth in the lower grades and have several juniors coming through the grades, including Jordan Mahoney.
“He’s only a teenager and we will probably lose him to the Premier League next year but he is gifted with the ball and ruthless in front of goals.”
Stevens said he was disappointed to see Wod-onga Heart withdraw from senior competition.
“So many people at that club worked tirelessly to get them to the point where they were competitive and winning games last year,” he said.
“It’s a shame for the club and the competition that it all fell over.”