Derby D-Day

THEY may be the more fancied Premier League outfit coming up against their lower tier Capital League opponents.

But Monaro Panthers captain Tom Crossley insists the side has “nothing to lose” in this weekend’s Mayor’s Cup derby against cross-town rivals Queanbeyan City at Seiffert Oval.

And Crossley even suggests it’s City who’ll be under the microscope come Sunday on the back of their grand final run last season.

Queanbeyan City play one tier below the Monaro Panthers in ACT competition during the regular season.

But with the Panthers likely to field an almost entirely new-look squad for the clash after a significant player drain over the off-season, Crossley was keen to shift the focus onto an experienced City outfit.

“I don’t think there are any losses for us this weekend,” Crossley said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure on Queanbeyan FC to be honest with us having such a young squad and them having the more experienced side.

“Coming off their success in the Capital League last season as well they’ll be strong. But in saying that, our boys have got to go out and prove themselves.”

After reclaiming the Mayor’s Cup last year, the Panthers are looking to become the first club to retain the trophy since its inception in 2011.

Proving they’re more than capable of matching it with their higher ranked opponents, Queanbeyan took out the title in 2012. And Crossley said the Panthers’ Premier League credentials would likely count for little when the whistle blows.

“When you get into a bit of a derby or anything with silverware on the line, you see in any competition that rankings go out the window a lot of the time,” Crossley said.

“So in the end it’s going to come down to which side wants it more on the day.”

Although not yet confirmed in the role, Crossley looms as the most likely man to take on the Panthers captaincy following the off-season departure of former skipper James Bradbury.

A rare pillar of experience amidst the bevy of talented but otherwise untested potential at coach Njegosh Popovich’s disposal this season, Crossley faces the uphill task of melding Monaro’s youthful squad into a cohesive unit.

But while he acknowledged that many are probably already prepared to write off the club’s Premier League chances this season, Crossley said the side would be happy to fly under the radar. 

“When people don’t have any expectations you’ve got nothing to lose,” he said. “I think that can make things a bit more comfortable for you because there is no pressure.

“I think the direction football’s going at the moment as well is that it’s a young man’s game. If you can get a quality young side out there working with confidence, anything is possible.”

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