REIGNING premiers Tamworth FC certainly have some work to do if they are to defend their Northern Inland Football Premier League first grade title.
Three late strikes enabled the sky blues to scrape home 3-1 against a gallant Moree FC which had just two fresh players for the first grade game.
It was a courageous effort from Darryl “Dipper” Smith and his small band of players.
The had lost their opening game of the season, 5-1, to North Companions at home and needed to produce something.
That it did, despite the small number of players available.
Alex Madden’s brilliantly- taken header in the first half looked like it might be enough for a long while as a scratchy Tamworth FC bumbled its way through to halftime.
It was a team effort too, big central defender Damien Puyenbroek said after the game.
“It was like we took it in turns to pass it to one of them,” he said of some disjointed play.
All donations were gladly received too, Smith said.
“I think we frustrated them – they seemed to come out real slow.
“We could have had two or three more goals in the first half too but didn’t take them.”
Smith was delighted with the performance.
“I was away last week and when I got back we had 22 at training,” he said.
“Five or six of them have to be registered before they can play but we need to get some points next week (Narrabri-Wee Waa away).
“We’ve got just two home games in the first seven.”
It’s a tough draw for Moree.
On Saturday, Madden was outstanding while Steven Pinner also impressed.
But none was better than goalkeeper Ken Wright.
He has a leg injury and normally plays in the midfield but made some brilliant saves to deny the FC attackers.
“He could have made 20 in both grades,” Smith said.
Tamworth FC coach Wayne May was thankful his side improved after a poor first half.
“We were disjointed, our passes never hit the mark and we were slow on the ball.
“But the second half we picked up.
“I moved one from the back into the midfield and we held the ball much better and started to play it wide.”
Left winger Travis Beard then came into his own and made some good runs with some arrowed crosses on the end.
He set up the first goal and had a hand in much of the good attacking play.
Chris Hughes and Kelly Nystrom made good debuts as well as Andrew “Yup” James, who wasted some good opportunities, but is seen as a vital addition to the FC attack.
Puyenbroek and Ben Davis also had their moments.
“It was a team effort in the second half,” May said.
It was a team effort in the first half too when they were lucky to string more than three passes together.
“We’ve got OVA this week and will need to step up for that,” May said.