Leeds Force head coach Danny Nelson sees tonight’s road clash with title-chasing Newcastle Eagles at Sport Central (7:30pm) as a chance to avenge a record-breaking 88-point drubbing at the hands of the Tyneside team on opening night.
A hurriedly-assembled Force squad suffered a catastrophic beating against Newcastle back in September to mark the largest loss ever suffered by a BBL team, but Leeds play-caller Nelson isn’t expecting a similar outcome tonight as Force go in search of a vital first road win of a difficult campaign.
“It was a long time ago, and we’re now a completely different team,” Nelson outlined.
“We’re still losing games, but we’ve improved drastically since then and we’ll be much more competitive this time around.
“Newcastle are a very athletic team with plenty of success behind them this season, but we’re determined to take them on and there’s no reason why we can’t at least challenge them on every play.”
An uncharacteristic three successive home defeats sees top spot in the league standings slipping from the Eagles’ grasp with the regular season reaching its climax, and Nelson is hoping Leeds can make life equally difficult for an under pressure Newcastle team suffering a distinct blip in form.
“We’ve got to be able to challenge for the whole game – we respect Newcastle as an opponent, but we’re going to go for it, and we’re not afraid to try and take the game to them as best we can tonight. We have a few injuries heading into the game, but the guys who will be playing are focused and ready to offer their best efforts against an incredibly tough Eagles side.
“It doesn’t really matter who we face, we still have the same mindset and mentality going into every game – I like to coach in difficult games, it’s a challenge for all of us because we have to raise our standards against the league’s best, but we’ll be ready and we’re confident of giving a good showing.
A bleak start to 2018 leaves the struggling Force still pursuing a first win of the new year, but the determined Irishman fired a warning to rival teams that Leeds will be no pushovers and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“We want to compete throughout every game – our players have proven that they can compete as individuals and take on other teams – they deserve respect from teams and they give me confidence every week that we can challenge against absolutely anyone.”