Season's biggest game for Taree Wildcats

Consistent Jordan Howard will be a key player for Taree Wildcats in tomorrow's vital Football Mid North Coast Premier League clash against Port United at Omaru Park.
Consistent Jordan Howard will be a key player for Taree Wildcats in tomorrow's vital Football Mid North Coast Premier League clash against Port United at Omaru Park.

TAREE can set up a charge for a top three berth by winning tomorrow’s Football Mid North Coast Premier League clash against Port United at Omaru Park.

However, a loss could see the Wildcats in a battle to stay in the top five.

“This is the biggest game for us this season in both grades by far,’’ coach Rod Bartley said.

Taree goes into the first grade encounter on equal points with tomorrow’s opponents but fifth on goal averages.

The Wildcats are four points clear of Tuncurry-Forster, although the Tigers have a difficult assignment against third placed Wallis Lake tomorrow.

There’s plenty of competition for fourth and fifth in reserve grade.

Taree is holding onto fifth and sit just one shy of Port United. However, Wauchope and Wallis Lake are both in the hunt for the finals.

Bartley said the Wildcats have a good run to the semi-finals.

“We play United at home, then we have the bye and finish with Kempsey Saints,’’ he said.

Saints are out of the running for a top five spot in first grade.

“So this is a six point game for us,’’ he said.

“A win and we're a chance to finish in the top three and that’s what we’re aiming for.’’

Bartley said he’s prepared to forgive his players for a below par effort against Camden Haven last week, when the Redbacks held them to a 2-2 draw at Laurieton.

“That might have been the wake-up call we needed,’’ he said.

“I’ll put it down to a bad day at the office and at least we came home with a share of the points.’’

He pointed out the Wildcats had been on a high going into the game after three impressive wins.

Laurie Maurer will miss tomorrow's game and Bartley was due to decide on his replacement at training last night.

He said there are a number of younger players in reserve grade who have been pushing for a start in first grade.

“We might shuffle things around a bit and give one of the younger players a chance,’’ he said.

Macleay Valley looks set to wrap up the minor premiership going into tomorrow’s round. The Rangers have 40 points.

Port Saints are clear in second place on 33 while premiers Wallis Lake follow on 38 with Port United and Taree sitting on 27.

Tuncurry-Forster is the only other side with a mathematical hope of making the five. The Tigers have 23.

Meanwhile five Taree players have been named in the southern side for next Tuesday’s trial game against Newcastle Jets at Port Macquarie.

They are Jordan Howard, Sean Pole-Cini, Josh Morris, McCabe Grass and Lucas Mepham (see story page 24).

The game will be played at the regional stadium kicking off at 7pm.