THE three-way Tamworth tussle for top billing in the McDonald’s Northern Inland Premier League Southern Conference could become even more condensed today.
With ladder leaders North Companions having the bye, Oxley Vale Attunga and Tamworth FC could conceivably join them at the top.
Both are on the road, with FC travelling to Gunnedah to take on the Hawks, while the Mushies make the trek to Moree for what will be one of their biggest tests of the season.
Not only is it their longest trip but they will have limited reserves to call on.
“We’re travelling with about 19 players,” Mushies coach Tim Coates said.
That will mean several players will have to double up.
Moree has only the one win at present but the Mushies won’t be taking it lightly.
“Moree is a difficult team at Moree,” Coates said.
“Like a few clubs, they play better at home.”
“They’ve got some good young players and are led well by Darrel Smith and Ian Thornton.”
“We’re not counting it as an easy game.”
The Mushies have had little trouble putting the ball in the back of the net.
“Our strength is the fact we can score goals,” Coates said.
Moree will be only too aware of that after the Mushies slipped nine past them when they played in Tamworth.
Like they are today though, Moree was under-strength then.
They only had about 18 players between the two grades.
Coates has one eye on their big clash with FC next week and will be looking for a more complete effort today.
They have been prone to lapsing for 20 minutes or so.
“I’ll be looking for a 90- minute game,” he said.
He said it was great to have Dan Cannon back to full fitness, as well as Adam Watson travelling away.
Chris Fenton is also set to play his second game back after returning from the World Cup.
That core of him, Watson and Brendan Fergie is a real strength for them, Coates said.
The other game in the Southern Conference will see Gunnedah United hosting Namoi United.
Meanwhile, in the Northern Conference, leaders Inverell Joeys are at home to bottom-placed Guyra,
The other two games will be in Armidale headlined by the match-up between North Armidale and Demon Knights. They sit second and third currently.
South Armidale will meet East Armidale in the other game.