NRFL

Mulligan wary of Birko’s dangerous youth

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East Coast Bays coach David Mulligan is embracing the positive start to the season with his side currently sitting in fourth after round seven of the Lotto NRFL Men’s Premier League.

Round eight see’s Bays heading across the shore to take on Birkenhead at Shepherds Park on Saturday, with what Mulligan describes as a “physical and demanding encounter.”

Seeking a win to bounce off last week’s solid victory over Manukau United, Mulligan admits the encounter with Birko is no plain sailing and with the youth policy they follow, he expects a challenge ahead of this weekend’s fixture.

“Birkenhead over the last couple of years have been the team to try and beat, with all their vast and experience players they had in their squads.”“This year they’ve been calling on their youth that [Paul] Hobson’s been producing over the past couple of seasons and he’s done a fantastic job with that.”

“They’ve got a couple of dangerous young players, so we’re going to have to be careful of them on the ball and we’re going try and play our game as well.”

“They’re a side a bit different to other teams, they do like to play football and it’s always good when you come up against a team that tries to play football the right way.”

In just his second season with the club, Mulligan has been eager to turn things around and bring Bays back to winning ways mirroring the Willy Gerdsen era a number of years ago.

“We’re in a good space now, compared to where we were last year, where we were near enough to the bottom of the table.”

“When I started, I didn’t really know the players, so I had to bring in some players I sort of knew, we didn’t do particularly well, it was our first year together and we were basically learning what I want to do.”

Although happy with the progress this season, Mulligan acknowledges, it was a hard turn around, but finds the embedded youth policy very fitting for the next few seasons ahead.

“We’ve changed things dramatically this year, we’ve brought in a lot of players, a lot of young kids, so this year is another stepping stone to where we want to be in a couple of years.”

“There’s a learning curve for a lot of players and we’ve got players who are seventeen, eighteen-year old’s who are starting, which is fantastic.”

“The fixture is a great advertisement for the league, two teams who want to play football and two teams who are using their youth policy as well.”

The match against Birkenhead will kick off at 3pm at Shepherds Park on Saturday.

Other Lotto NRFL Men’s Premier League Fixtures:
Three Kings United vs Bay Olympic – Keith Hay Park, 3pm.
Manukau United vs Hamilton Wanderers – Mangere Centre Park, 3pm.
Waitkere City vs Glenfield Rovers – Fred Taylor Park, 3pm.
Onehunga Sports vs Eastern Suburbs – Waikaraka Park, 3pm.
Western Springs vs Central United – Seddon Fields, 5:15pm.

Lotto NRFL Men’s Premier League Table: