TAMWORTH FC coach Wayne May hopes that English mid-fielder Michael Roberts could be an ace up his sleeve as the side hosts Oxley Vale Attunga Mushrooms in a huge weekend of Northern Inland Premier League derbies.
The Englishman has been playing for FC since arriving from Sunderland in April but missed the last clash with OVA.
“They haven’t seen him and he just keeps getting better and more dominant every game,” May said.
The two sides are tied on 25 points on the table and both have been on scoring rampages.
They have scored 38 between them in the last two games.
Livewire Luke Purcell scored five of those OVA goals last weekend and will be hungry for more, according to Mushies coach Tim Coates.
Leading goalscorer Adam Watson is a fifty-fifty chance of playing with an injured hamstring while star Chris Fenton will remain on the sideline for the third week with a torn quadricep.
Coates believes it will be a very different match to their round 2-1 victory at Johnson Field in round two.
The biggest difference could be the loss of premiership-winning FC central defender Damien Puyenbroek who moved back to Adelaide mid- season.
“I don’t think there will be many goals between us,” Coates said.
“They are a different unit to the one we played before.”
North Companions sit in wait one point behind both sides, with a match-up against Gunnedah United at home this weekend.
A win and a draw in the other game could see North swoop in and take the lead.
“Obviously it is in my mind,” Coates said. “We could slip to third overnight.”
The Tamworth coach is well aware of the pressure in the competition and has his eye on a third straight club championship and, with it, a minor premiership.
Striker Ben Davis will again sit out with a bad ankle but otherwise the premiers are full-strength.
“We need to keep our shape in the back,” May said.
“Michael (Roberts) is pretty handy in the middle with Tim Smith.
“Last week we had six goal scorers.”
Tamworth FC is certainly sharing the goals around, with central defender Kelly Nystrom top scorer so far this season with nine.
“Go figure that one,” May said.
The other game in the Southern Conference will see Namoi FC clashing with Moree Football Club.
In the Northern Conference Guyra United will play East Armidale at Guyra while the Armidale derby plays out at Phil Wheaton Oval.