St Augustine’s sit third on the MWFA Premier League ladder with two wins from their first three games. They’ve conceded just one goal, a far cry from the side that conceded nearly 20 in their first five games last season. It’s more amazing when you consider what they’ve been through – and are still going through.
“It’s been a very disruptive pre-season,” Saints coach Sam Panetta said. “There’s not many competitions where you play your first three games without being able to train on your home track. We’ve also had a few injuries.
“But I’m very happy with the group. They’ve come together well and everyone’s going in the same direction, everyone’s bought in. Whatever we’ve thrown at them they’ve dealt with well. And they’re enjoying their football at game time. It helps when you like the guys you’re playing with.”
Yet challenges abound. Asked who fans can expect to shine in this Saturday’s game against Narrabeen FC at Narrabeen Sports High, Panetta laughed: “I can’t tell you. I don’t know who we’ve got. Our skipper’s in Queensland. The goal keeper’s having a baby. There’s injuries. It’s always fun, mate, club footy! Whoever we put out there we’ll be up against it this week. Narrabeen’s always a tough match.”
Panetta’s plan to counter Narrabeen is, effectively, don’t give them the ball. “We played them last year and failed to keep the ball off them. There was a lot of turnover and they punished us. If we can defend as a unit we can limit their chances.”
Panetta talks like his team are underdogs. Yet last start against BTH Raiders they won 8-0. “It was one of those games,” Panetta said. “Usually you’ll play well and think maybe if everything had gone in we’d have won by more. This was a game everything went in. We were so clinical.
“It was a culmination of a lot of hard work. We’re slowly coming together, we’re not there yet but hopefully we’ll be playing our best football later in the year. You don’t want to be peaking in April.”
Yet Saints’ defence is clearly a point of difference to last year. “One thing we pride ourselves on is defence,” Panetta said. “The boys can score goals, that’s never been an issue for Saints. But we’re being aggressive defensively and hopefully it’ll continue and we’ll end up near the top.”
By Matt Cleary
Premier League Games – 10th April 2021 – 3:00pm
Pittwater RSL FC vs BTH Raiders at Kitchener Park Field 1
Narrabeen FC vs St Augustine’s at Narrabeen High Field 1
Seaforth FC vs Mosman Football Club at Seaforth Oval Field 1
Manly Vale FC vs Wakehurst FC at David Thomas Field 2
Brookvale FC vs Harbord FC at Grahams Reserve Field 1
Curl Curl FC vs CC Strikers at Abbott Road Field 5