Maclean Bobcats and Westlawn Tigers square off
THE Clarence Valley's two North Coast Football first division teams - the Westlawn Tigers and Maclean Bobcats - will face off for the first time this season at Barnier Park, Junction Hill, tonight.
Local derbies are always torrid affairs in any sporting contest, but this one will have added spice fuelled by a number of players who signed with the Bobcats only to leave and join Westlawn before the season began.
The well-oiled and experienced Bobcats will enter the match unchanged from the team which trounced Orara last week and at absolute full strength will be entitled to favouritism.
However, the young Westlawn outfit is a team on the improve and when the two sides last met in the final round of the 2008 season the Tigers restricted their more fancied local rivals to a 2-0 win.
That result confirmed the Bobcats' runner-up position on the ladder and should have relegated the Tigers.
However, Westlawn was reinstated in first division when Grafton City withdrew.
Regardless, history rarely plays a part in local derbies as often the underdog can find something extra and raise their game to another level, a fact not lost on Bobcats coach Steve O'Sullivan and his support staff.
O'Sullivan will look to in-form striker Fraser Robinson, who hit the net five times in 30 minutes last week, to continue on his goal scoring ways, but provided a word of caution to his hosts.
“I don't mind if they concentrate hard on marking Fraser and I'm sure he doesn't mind so much either because we have genuine goal scorers playing all around him that will get more space themselves,” O'Sullivan said.
However, O'Sullivan also had a word of warning for his own troops.
“We have to concentrate defensively like last week before we worry about scoring,” he said.
Tigers coach Terry Stewart was under no illusions when talking about the mammoth task confronting his players tonight.
“They're (Bobcats) red hot ... very good,” he said.
“They are strong all round, have a strong forward line and like to move the ball around.
“They like to play down the wings and we'll have to be careful when they're getting behind and crossing the ball in.
“We really have to dig deep, defend well and hit them on the counter-attack.
“This team (Westlawn) are a young side and are getting better, but will face an experienced Bobcats squad.”
Stewart said last week's 4-0 loss to Woolgoolga was not a true reflection of where the Tigers were at.
“Woolgoolga were the better team, but we played good football,” he said.
“We'd make a simple mistake and get punished for it.
“The scoreline doesn't reflect the game, but the loss was a bit of a body-blow.”
Youth division kicks-off at 5pm today, with the first division showdown getting underway at 7pm.