TAREE Wildcats had a soul-searching session this week as the side looks to end a mid-season slump that threatens their Football Mid North Coast Premier League final five chances.
The Wildcats have now lost three out of the last four games, with a draw against Port Saints the only positive, along with a bye.
Taree sits in fifth place on goal differential on 19 points along with Port United and Kempsey Saints. Tomorrow the Wildcats play Wauchope, another side desperate for a win, at Wauchope.
It’s been an ordinary few weeks for the club. Wet weather has curtailed training sessions while the Wildcats have also struck injury problems, with skipper Jordan Howard the main casualty.
“There have been a few factors going against us, but at the moment the first grade side is flat,’’ coach Rod Bartley said.
“I’ve been getting the effort from the reserves. The first grade had a talk about it this week and hopefully that’ll resolve a few things and we can move forward from here.’’
The Wildcats were off their game when beaten 4-0 by an impressive Macleay Valley at Omaru last week.
Taree was still in the contest at halftime but Rangers, currently in second place, proved far too good in the second section. Bartley said the match showed the difference between the clubs.
“Macleay’s first grade wouldn’t be out of place in first grade,’’ he said.
“At the moment we just don’t have the depth in our club.’’
Bartley said the next fortnight will be crucial for the Wildcats.
After Saturday’s game against Wauchope the Wildcats will tackle Port United at Omaru. The last time Taree met United they were thrashed 7-0 in a deferred midweek game at Port.
Bartley added Taree’s goal differential – now at -12- is another worry. The Wildcats have conceded 33 goals, the most in the competition.
“Our first aim is to seal a place in the final five,’’ Bartley said.
“Then we can start look at finishing higher up the ladder – it’s still pretty bunched, but we have to beat some of the sides in front of us. We’re not going to be able to rely on goal differential, unless we improve that pretty dramatically.’’
Last placed Wauchope are fresh from the bye and also need to start winning games if they’re going to stay in the premier league next year.
The competition will be reduced to eight clubs in 2019 with the side finishing last in first grade this year dropping out.
Wauchope's currently four points shy of eighth placed Port Saints.