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Weston Bears search for senior keeper ahead of inaugural Heritage Cup and 2017 NPL

BACK TO THE FUTURE: Andrew Goldman in goals for Charlestown against Weston in 2013. Picture: Peter StoopWESTON boss Steve Piggott may call on 39-year-old goalkeeping coach Andrew Goldman to play the opening Northern NSW National Premier League rounds after a fruitless search for a senior gloveman.

The Bears are preparing for the inaugural Heritage Cup this Friday, Saturday and Sunday before their season-opener against Lake Macquarie at Weston Park on Sunday, March 12.

Piggott has returned to Weston, the club who sacked him after their 2014 grand final loss, to take over from Trevor Morris following the Bears’ horror 2016 season which featured just one win.

However, goalkeeper Benn Kelly, who left Maitland during Piggott’s tenure there last year, has switched from Weston to Lake Macquarie.Piggott hoped to have Tim Pratt on board again but he has withdrawn because of work commitments.The coach said he had three young keepers who were not ready for first grade.

“We’ve been looking in Sydney, the Central Coast and further afieldbut nothing’s come to fruition yet,” Piggott said.“We may have to register Andrew Goldman, the goalkeeping coach, and start with him for a couple of weeks until we sort something out.But we’ve still got one iron in the fire and we’ll have to see how it pans out.”

While the Bears have gained the likes of Brock Oakley (Maitland) andJamie Byrnes (Lambton Jaffas), Zac Sneddon has linked with Valentine, where his father, Steve, is technical director.Hejoins Nathan Morris, Garry McDermott and Robbie Turnbull as losses for the Bears. Hopes of recruiting American forward Reed McKenna have also ended. Piggott was still looking to sign more young players but was “not panicking”.

GONE: Zac Sneddon, right, playing for Weston in 2014. The utility has made a late switch to Valentine for the 2017 season. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

“We’re young and inexperienced and we’ll take a few beatings and bounce back, and if we’re somewhere mid-table then I’ll be happy,” he said.“I’m happy where we are. There’s no relegation but you never want to finish at the back end, sothey are all hungry to prove themselves.”

In a strange twist to the Heritage Cup, Piggott is coach of two teams taking part. The tournamentfeatures seven first- or second-tier clubs, including Weston, whoare more than a century old. The eighth club are interdistrictside Maryland Fletcher, who are coached part-time by Piggott and representing the region’s first club, Minmi Rangers.

Weston play Cessnock City (Friday, 7.45pm), Wallsend (11am, Saturday) and Edgeworth (4pm, Saturday) in Pool A at Jack McLaughlan Oval. Adamstown, West Wallsend, Maryland Fletcher and Lake Macquarie are in Pool B at Adamstown Oval, where the decider between the pool winners will be held on Sunday at 10am.

Of the Heritage Cup, which consists of 60-minute games, Piggott said: “I like the concept but I think it should have been two or three weeks ago.

“That’s the only problem I’ve got. A week out, generally you don’t take a game or you just try to work on things you need to.

“I’ll use these games to work on some things but it’s not ideal when you are using 21 players in a weekend.

“We’re trying not to have any injuries, first and foremost, but I’ll give them all a chance to show a bit again andone final fitness test.

“I’ve used the pre-season as mainly fitness and conditioning. We’ve played better sides and they’ve all beaten us, but there’s no problems with that.

“We’ll play Edgeworth in one of the games and that will be a good yardstick for us becausewe played them five weeks ago and they beat us.

“You do your best on the day and see what comes out of it.”

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