Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Devonport goalkeeper Nathan Pitchford says the squad is committed to winning league title

Photo:  Nathan Pitchford fronted the media today at Football Tasmania headquarters [PlessPix]

The performances of Devonport City goalkeeper Nathan Pitchford this season is a major reason for the club being on top of the NPL Tasmania standings.

Pitchford is enjoying the season and the success the club is having.

“It’s been fantastic, especially the last few weeks,” Pitchford said at a media conference at KGV Park today.

“We’ve really been able to put some form together and turn that into some really good results against some pretty tough opposition.”

Last Saturday’s 4-1 win over South Hobart was a crucial result for the North-West Coast side and it put them 11 points ahead of South Hobart and kept them 5 points in front of second-placed Olympia Warriors.

“We tried as hard as we could to have that internal focus and not really worry too much about what South Hobart were doing but really be focused on what we could do and take our game to the next level to turn that result [South Hobart’s Lakoseljac Cup Final win over Devonport] around.

“I think we did a fantastic job executing certain things on quite a tough day in quite tough conditions, so it was a really good result to come out with.”

Pitchford said Devonport would not take winning the title for granted.

“There’s no room for complacency in this league at this minute and I think South Hobart have a game in hand so, effectively, they’re only 8 points behind us,” he said.

“Olympia are 5 points behind us, so it’s that odd number, it’s not an even number of games we’ve got on either of those guys at the minute, so it would really be good to keep extending and keep pushing.

“As soon as you’re complacent in a league that’s this tight, you’re opening yourself up for some issues.”

When asked whether he’d rather be in the FFA Cup or in the running for the league title, Pitchford said he would like to be in FFA Cup contention.

“I’d rather have to manage myself through the FFA Cup than not, that’s for sure,” he said.

“It was such a fantastic experience last year when we were fortunate enough to get through to the round-of-16.

“Devonport have done that twice now.  It’s such a fantastic ride and such a fantastic experience that I’d certainly rather be managing myself through that than not.

“But, we now have one sole focus, and that’s the league now.  We’re pretty determined to get that right.

“Winning the league is more rewarding in terms of it’s a long time.  You start training in November and you finish in September and you sort of have a few weeks off and then you do it all again.

“It’s the culmination of such a long period of work and it’s a bit of a grind to get through a season that’s 27 weeks long and 24 games.

“It’s a real grind, so it’s really rewarding to get that NPL title 100 per cent, and you get to celebrate that night at the end of the season, the league dinner and stuff like that.

“It’s really rewarding, but obviously, the FFA Cup has that magical component to it, and that really exciting component, so it’s hard to differentiate, but the league [title] is so rewarding at the end of the day.”

Photo:  Nathan Pitchford works for UTAS as a lecturer in Exercise Science and Sports Science [PlessPix]

Pitchford said the Devonport squad was a committed group and was working hard.

“From a playing group perspective, we’ve got a really resilient playing group and a hard-working playing group, that’s for sure,” he said.

“It’s something we pride ourselves on, and on our work ethic and our ability to grind out, not just games but training sessions, and get through things and be really resilient.”

With former Devonport coach Chris Gallo back on the North-West Coast in a Football Tasmania youth development role, there have been rumours that he could be back at the helm next season.

Pitchford would not be drawn into speculation about the coaching position next season.

“Chris [Gallo] and Rick [Coghlan] are different,” he said.

“Every coach is different.  Kenny [Morton] would be different to Dave Smith.  Every coach has their differences and unique styles.

“Not one style is better than any other and I’ve loved working really, really closely with Rick this year.  He’s been fantastic for me.

“He’s sort of pushed me to do some different things.  He’s got me onboard in a couple of different capacities as well, which has been really good this year.

“Rick is our coach and I back him one hundred per cent for this year, for next year, for however long he’s around.  Rick’s got our 110 per cent support.”

Pitchford said there were some good young goalkeepers in Tasmania and he named South Hobart’s Kieran Brown and Riverside Olympic’s Jarrod Hill as two who stand out.

He said there had been some good import goalkeepers, too, but clubs could look more to available local talent.

Photo:  Nathan Pitchford is Devonport City's goalkeeper but also the club's Physical Performance Manager [PlessPix]

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