A NEW look Tamworth FC will attempt to win a third straight premiership this year as the Northern Inland Premier League kicks off.
The premiers will make the trip out to Narrabri this weekend to take on the new Narrabri and Wee Waa combined side.
The team has lost a few players in the off-season, but will probably miss Chris Soto and Andrew Sepak the most.
“They were our two strikers,” coach Wayne May said.
“Between them they scored three quarters of our goals last year.”
Both players have left Tamworth to study at university.
Cameron Potter has been called up to replace the strikers this weekend, although Kurt Barrow will challenge him for that position later in the season.
Barrow has been top goal scorer in the reserve grade league for two seasons in a row, but is unavailable this week.
“The step up to first grade is a big one and they will have to be quicker on the ball,” May said.
Two Queenslanders have joined the club this year and will definitely be a bonus for the side.
Young player Chris Hughes has come from Mackay, although hasn’t played for a few years.
“He is getting his touch back and was very impressive in the State Cup game against Lismore,” May said.
They also have Kely Nystrom who has previously played in the Brisbane League.
Nystrom will fit into the defensive structure.
“He is very calm and steady on the ball.”
“He has played at a level much higher than this one and will be a great asset.”
Fortunately the club does have these fresh faces.
Matt Gardner is allegedly taking a sabbatical from the game for a year, while his right side partner Pat Jones has also left town.
Jarred May is off to Goulburn to join the police force and will not feature this season.
“We have got those new guys and a coupe of young blokes coming through,” May said.
“It will be a different team but we will be competitive.”
May believes that FC and OVA will once against be the mark for the conference after featuring in the last couple of grand finals.
“North Armidale are always competitive in the other conference and will set the benchmark there. Joeys might also be dangerous although both conferences will be very competitive this year.”
The other games in the southern conference will see Guyra host Gunnedah United, OVA host Gunnedah Hawks and North Companions go on the road to Moree.