Tamworth FC and North Companions go into their Northern Inland Premier League blockbuster at Marius Street on Saturday with “no excuses”.
Both clubs will be at full strength for possibly the first time this season.
“We’re not going to have any excuses. We’ll have the best team on the park we can,” FC coach Greg Bartlett said.
Jackson Haussler returns for them, the midfielder the only change to the side that dispatched of East Armidale last round.
They are unbeaten so far this season and haven’t conceded a goal in their last two outings, but are wary of their cross-town rivals.
“We seem to have a bit of trouble with them for some reason,” Bartlett said.
Companions had the wood on them last season.
FC finished on top last time the two sides met, but it took a last minute strike from Sam Williams to get the win.
“We’ve improved since we played them in the FFA Cup, but they’ve improved since then too,” Bartlett said.
He said they won’t be looking to do anything different on Saturday.
“We’re not going to change anything, we’ll just continue what we’ve been doing the last six weeks,” he said.
“It’s been working so far.”
It’s a matter of being able to keep doing what they want to do under pressure, and being disciplined, and clinical in attack.
For the amount of opportunities they are creating they aren’t putting enough away.
Bartlett believes the midfield is where they can get on top with Ben Davis and Hamish Migheli really coming into their own, and Haussler back.
“Then we’ve got Ross Price and Troy Hearfield in defence. You can’t ask for a much better defensive line,” he said.
“I think on paper we’ve got the better side, but paper doesn’t mean the better side on the field.”
After a couple of weeks of hard training, Companions co-coach Gavin Thompson said they go into the game confident of a good performance.
He was pleased with their effort in that FFA Cup clash but spoke about needing to be quicker.
“We have to be quicker at everything we do. Recovering if we lose the ball, or going forward when we win the ball,” he said.
“They’re obviously in form. They are a lot fitter side than they were last year.”
He singled out Kurt Barrow as a danger up front, but they can’t afford to concentrate too much on him.
“They’ve got quality players all over the park that we’ve got to be wary of,” Thompson said.
He said they will look to keep the same structure but are open to changing it during the game if required.
“We’ll just see how the game goes,” he said.
In the other round five fixtures, third-placed Oxley Vale Attunga host competition leaders (on goal difference) Demon Knights at Scully Park, while East Armidale take on South Armidale.
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