Ready to lead the Reds

Cambridge Edition - - SPORT - MIKE BAIN

Cam­bridge Foot­ball Club’s cap­tain Pa­trick Wood­lock is about to lead his team into one of the most im­por­tant games in re­cent sea­sons.

The Reds play Beach­land­sMarae­tai in the re­turn leg match of a qual­i­fy­ing series to de­cide which team will com­pete in the North­ern Re­gional Foot­ball League next year.

Wood­lock is aware of the pres­sure but be­lieves Cam­bridge has the tal­ent to get the job done.

He said the club hasn’t com­peted in the North­ern League for at least six years.

‘‘It’s been a while since we were there,’’ he said.

Wood­lock, 29, is a teacher at Cam­bridge High School, where he also coaches foot­ball.

He and fel­low se­nior players like Nathan Clar­idge will be key to this Satur­day’s cru­cial match. Clar­idge, 26, has played ev­ery sea­son at Cam­bridge FC since he was four year old.

He has ex­pe­ri­enced the dis­ap­point­ment of rel­e­ga­tion from the North­ern League in 2011 but he had been in­stru­men­tal in re­build­ing the team.

And this year was the team’s most suc­cess­ful sea­son at se­nior level.

Both Wood­lock and Clar­idge played along­side Chris Wood when he made his se­nior de­but for Cam­bridge, at age of 14, in 2006.

Wood is now lead­ing the All Whites’ at­tack and star­ring for Burnley in the English Premier League.

Wood­lock ad­mit­ted it took some time for the team to find its way at the be­gin­ning of the 2017 sea­son.

‘‘But our coach­ing staff found the right chem­istry among the players and we have been able to play to our po­ten­tial.’’

He said the turn­ing point was the match against Univer­sity of Auck­land dur­ing the Chatham Cup.

‘‘Play­ing this team proved to be a cat­a­lyst and this gave us a lot more con­fi­dence.’’

Wood­lock’s been for­tu­nate to have the ex­pe­ri­ence of three se­nior players to as­sist him guid­ing the youth­ful tal­ent in the squad.

‘‘We have moulded well to­gether as a unit and its a good blend of youth and ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

A win this week­end would also help the club with player re­ten­tion.

Keep­ing Josh Clarkin and Kyle Stead was key, he said.

‘‘Both these players have big fu­tures ahead of them.

‘‘We have all worked hard this year and I would like to think we could all move for­ward as a team,’’ he said.

The ag­gre­gate score of last week­end’s game won 4-1 by the Reds and this Satur­day’s will de­ter­mine which club is pro­moted to next year’s North­ern League sec­ond di­vi­sion.

MARK TAY­LOR FAIR­FAX NZ

Cam­bridge FC ca­p­atin Pa­trick Wood­lock, play­ing in the Chatham Cup foot­ball game against Univer­sity of Auck­land ear­lier this year.

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