Bobcats on a blowout in Summer Youth League
MACLEAN Bobcats only entered the Far North Coast Football Summer Youth League to give their younger players more experience for next year's competition.
Coach Rod Menzies went on record as saying they did not have a "results-orientated goal", and the players only set out to improve their own skills against higher quality competition.
A tick over halfway through the competition and the Bobcats have surprised everyone, sitting second behind the powerful and undefeated Richmond Rovers.
Nobody is more surprised than Menzies, who admitted he is gunning for a top-four spot in the light of recent results.
"The boys have exceeded expectations," Menzies said.
"I'm extremely proud of the guys. Their average age is 16.8 and they're playing in an under-20s competition.
"We definitely didn't expect them to go so well. We didn't have a results-orientated goal before we started, but we're going for the top four now."
The format of the Summer Youth League allows clubs to nominate two over-age players who act as mentors for the rest of the squad who must be under-20. Jarred Doyle and Kevin Crofton fill those roles for the Bobcats, but do not think they have done all the work.
Doyle is the Bobcats' leading goal scorer in this competition so far with six, but youngsters Luke Hanlon and Sam Finlayson are breathing down his neck with five and four respectively.
Harry Menzies has three goals so far, but will have a chance to take the challenge to his older teammates as the only starter out of the four tonight.
"Our emphasis at training has been to focus solely on ballwork and not too much fitness. They've been moving the ball around a lot better as a result.
"They'll have the opportunity to play against stronger competition in Lennox Head. Lennox have had mixed results so far - they seem a bit hot and cold. It could come down to which team turns up."
The Bobcats host Casino at Maclean Showground next Friday, then travel to face Alstonville in the final round on December 6.
How the Bobcats line up
Maclean Bobcats v Lennox Head Maclean Showground Kickoff:7pm tonight 1. Ryley Allen (GK), 2. Sam Beaufils, 4. Jayden Grainger, 5. Cullyn Stewart-Butcher, Josh Arndell, 7. Evan Lloyd, 12. Nathan Shugg, 13. Cooper Apps-Simmons, 14. Harry Menzies, 15. Clancy Haupt, 16. Jack WinklerSubs: 3. Mackenzie Allen, 8. Sam Finlayson, 9. Jarred Doyle, 10. Kevin Crofton, 11. Luke Hanlon, 53. Matt Farrell (GK). Coach: Rod Menzies