Tasman United has lost five players for the second half of its National Football League campaign, with one of them set to face his old team this weekend.
Former Nayland College star Alex Ridsdale asked to join Southern United in the current transfer window, a move Tasman were willing to rubber stamp, despite the attacking midfielder being the team’s best player last season.
Tasman coach Davor Tavich says it was a tough decision.
“It was a very hard decision because I’ve known Alex for a very long time. He wasn’t happy with a few decisions that I made, we had a chat about it and couldn’t work it out, so…”
Alex is joined on his way out the door by Robbie Pearson, Kieran Smith and Tinashe Marowa, who was another star for Tasman last season and trialled with the Wellington Phoenix in the off-season.
Another player likely to be gone for the season is Abdulla Al-Kalisy, who broke his foot.
Club chairman Mark Sheenan says Robbie and Kieran are both returning to the United Kingdom.
“Robbie’s visa is running out and will be heading back to play for his old club while Kieran was offered his old job so will be heading back as well.”
Tinashe, a former Central School student, hasn’t been at his best this season and found himself used as a substitute more than a starter. Davor says Tinashe has decided he needs some time away from the game and will be heading to Auckland.
To replace these five Mark says they had opportunities to sign outside players, but Davor has decided to promote youth.
“In his words, ‘for better or worse we’ll run with what we’ve got’. The outgoing players do leave a hole, no doubt about it, but we’re confident in these guys coming through. Go back to what we’re here for, yes, we want to win the league, but we want to do it with local players.”
That philosophy almost paid dividends at Saxton Field on Sunday when Tasman drew 4-4 with Hamilton Wanderers in the latest round of the ISPS Handa Premiership.
Tasman’s first goal was scored by Matt Tod-Smith and its first penalty was earned by a driving Callan Elliot run into the box when he was fouled, both players started the season in the Tasman youth team.
Sixth-placed Tasman will travel to play eighth-placed Southern United in Dunedin this weekend.