TAREE'S Football Mid North Coast Premier League season is at the crossroads heading into the second round on Saturday.
The Wildcats had an indifferent first round, hindered by injury and player unavailability and now sit in seventh spot on 10 points, trailing tomorrow's opponents, the equal fifth placed Kempsey Saints, by three points. Camden Haven also has 13 points.
Taree will be at home at Omaru Park for this weekend's game.
Captain-coach Jordan Howard said this is one of the must-win games the Wildcats face in the second round if they hope to be playing semi-final football this year.
"This is the position we've got ourselves into,'' Howard said.
The Wildcats will have Callum Griffs and Lucas Mepham available tomorrow after both missed the 2-0 loss to Wallis Lake in the game before the long weekend. At this stage Howard thinks the Wildcats will be at full strength.
However, he said that's been one of the side's problems this year.
"On Wednesday I think everyone is right then I get two or three phone calls before Saturday to say players can't get there,'' he said.
"It's a commitment issue - the players prioritise other things above football.''
Kempsey Saints and Taree still still have to play the first round game postponed because Saints had FFA Cup commitments. This game will now be played in July in Kempsey.
Howard thinks that realistically the Wildcats can only afford to drop second round games against the sides at the very top of the ladder.
They'll have to take points from every other match. However, in the next few weeks the Wildcats play Kempsey Saints, Port Saints and Camden Haven and Howard has declared all these matches as 'winnable.' In this time they also have to travel to Kempsey to tackle Macleay Valley while there'll be a bye next week.
Howard said the 2-0 loss the Wallis was fairly typical of the season. The Wildcats couldn't convert pressure into goals while when the opportunities came, Wallis slammed home the goals, continuing the club's six year domination over Taree.
"The effort's there but we're just not taking our chances,'' he said.
"We're just not clinical enough in front of goals and that's been costing us.''
Meanwhile Wallis Lake will be looking to make a statement in the opening second round game when they meet last placed Wauchope tomorrow at Forster.
Competition front runners Port United make the trip to Laurieton of play Camden Haven while Macleay Valley Rangers head to Tuncurry to meet the Tuncurry-Forster Tigers.
Port Saints have the bye.