Bumpy field may keep British at bay SOCCER

July 30, 1991|By Tara Finnegan

The British are coming to Cedar Lane Park tonight, and they have a Yankee among them.

Sheffield Wednesday, the 1991 English League Cup champion, features 24-year-old John Harkes, a Kearny, N.J., native and former University of Virginia and U.S. World Cup player.

Harkes is the first American to have considerable success in the English League, where he was a starter for Sheffield last fall.

"It's the first time I'm playing against my own country," Harkes said. "I'm happy playing with my club."

But what Sheffield Wednesday isn't happy about are the playing conditions on the Bays' field at Cedar Lane Park, where the two teams will meet at 7:35 p.m.

"It's going to be difficult playing on the surface," Harkes said.

"The surface is not flat. It's bumpy, hard in patches and small in size," said Sheffield Wednesday player-coach Trevor Francis.

Francis said Sheffield Wednesday has a high-technique style of play, and the players are used to playing on smooth surfaces.

"We like to play the game and knock the ball around," Harkes said about his long-passing style of "football."

"It's a difficult surface to play on," agreed Bays midfielder and Player of the Month Kevin Sloan. "It's tough to finish the ball and make passes. We're used to it, so it's an advantage for us."

Sloan also said a rough field allows for a high-scoring game like the Bays' 5-0 thumping of the Penn-Jersey Spirit Sunday night.

But regardless of how the ball may bounce, both teams are confident that they will win.

"We would expect to win," Harkes said. "That's the way every club should feel."

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