AN influx of recruits in the transfer window has given Bendigo City FC a ray of hope that it can avoid relegation.
The club has signed 10 new players – including five from the United States.
“Some of the initial signings have been playing with us for three weeks and already we have seen a great improvement in performance,” Bendigo City FC president Robyn Williams said.
“The seniors have played the top three sides in the last three weeks and have performed much better than previous matches already, so we expect this to continue as all the new players come on board.
“The club now has a list of 23 senior registered players and 20 under-20 registered players. These are the largest senior lists the club has had in two years and strengthens the whole program from seniors down through the under-20s and into the under-18 program.”
Attacking midfielder Asa Kryst (Charlotte Independence), striker Kevin Walker (University of South Carolina), winger Anthony Marafioti (Medaille College, Buffalo), right-back Sam Beezley (Medaille College, Buffalo) and midfielder Rylee Perfect (Century College, Minnesota) are the club’s US imports.
Former Adelaide Olympic midfielder Mun Bichiok, Eastern Lions centre-back Cameron Dickie, Hume City winger Kane DeBattista, Canberra FC midfielder Simon Rohan-Smith and talented Bendigo teenager Ollie Leonard-Shannon have also been added to the senior squad.
“The aim of getting these new players on board is for the team to have a stronger second half of the season so they can avoid relegation and continue to play in the National Premier League,” Williams added.
Avoiding relegation is a huge task.
With 10 games remaining, Bendigo City is on the bottom of the west division ladder – 15 points behind second-last placed Werribee.
The club will need to win at least five of its remaining 10 games to have any hope of staying in the NPL.
That quest starts with a tough game at La Trobe University in Bundoora on Saturday against a Melbourne City side which sits in third place on the east conference ladder.
After the Melbourne City clash the draw opens up for Bendigo City.
Bendigo only has one game against a top three team – Dandenong Thunder – in its final nine matches. Five of those nine matches are on home soil at Epsom-Huntly Recreation Reserve, including a crucial clash with Werribee City on July 15.
Meanwhile, the Bendigo City FC juniors have the bye this weekend.