TAREE can go a long way to securing fourth spot on the Football Mid North Coast Premier League ladder by defeating Kempsey Saints in the penultimate round at Kempsey tomorrow.
Both sides have 25 points and are three clear of sixth placed Camden Haven. However, the Redbacks would be favoured to beat Port Saints tomorrow to keep their finals hopes alive.
Taree plays Camden Haven in the last round game at Taree next weekend while Kempsey Saints will tackle second placed Macleay Valley.
“If we can win our last two games then we should get fourth and that’s our aim,’’ Taree coach Rod Bartley said.
However he warned there’s still plenty of intrigue. Kempsey has a far superior goal differential to Taree and that will count if the sides are locked on the same points at the conclusion of the competition-proper.
“And if Camden Haven can win both their games, they could tip us or Saints out,’’ Bartley said.
“We certainly don’t want it to come down to a goal differential.’’
However, he believes the Wildcats are getting their mojo back after a lean run mid-season.
“We’re starting to play with more confidence again,’’ Bartley said.
He said there was plenty to like about Taree’s effort in the 2-1 loss to Wallis Lake in the clash last weekend.
“We’re slowly starting to do the stuff we need to,’’ Bartley said.
He also believes it’s a good thing to be playing the better sides going into the semi-finals, saying this will steel the team for the pressure games ahead.
Bartley expects to Wildcats to be at full strength for the crucial encounter. He’s played skipper Jordan Howard off the bench in the past fortnight and said this has worked well. However, he’s yet to decide if Howard starts tomorrow. Howard has recovered from a hamstring injury.
“He’s just about 100 per cent now and is keen to get back on the paddock,’’ Bartley said.
“But Jordan’s a targeted player so bringing him off the bench has been good for us.’’
Jackson Witts and Josh Douglas will both be available after missing the clash against Wallis Lake.
“If we win this one it takes a lot of pressure of us going into the last round,’’ Bartley pointed out.
“So we control our own destiny now.’’
In other round 17 games Tuncurry-Forster will be at home to Wauchope with Wallis Lake to tackle Macleay Valley. Camden Haven plays Port Saints.
Port United has the bye.