Valley's big cats ready to claw towards FFA Cup
FOOTBALL: Newly appointed Premier League coach Scott Elphick has high praise for his new-look Maclean Bobcats side and it is not unfounded with the league's perrenial fifth-placers set for a charge to the top of the North Coast Football tree.
That charge will need to wait though, as the green machine first have to overcome a dogged Orara Valley Dingoes in FFA Cup action at Forsyth Park on Sunday.
It will be the first taste of football for Elphick's side after parting ways with former coach Giuseppe Terranova at the end of the 2016 season.
"The guys were unlucky last year. They pushed the big teams in almost every game, and they're travelling twice the distance of any other club,” Elphick said. "On top of that, they were playing a good brand of football. We will build on it this year and continue to play with an attractive style.”
The Maclean club have strengthened their line-up this season with a couple of new recruits out of Brisbane's National Premier League competition and after a strong pre-season including a trial against Murwillumbah FC Warning, Elphick has some big ambitions for 2017.
"I'm lucky to come into an established squad,” Elphick said. "With two or three of our new players this year, we're a top four side.”
Meanwhile, struggling Clarence club Westlawn Tigers will kick off their 2017 FFA Cup campaign against last year's NCF regional qualifiers Urunga Raiders at Barnier Park.
Raiders will prove a tough early season test for the yellow and blacks but after an impressive showing in a recent trial match against Nambucca Strikers the Tigers head into today's clash brimming with confidence.
Former captain-coach James Joyce will take the reins of the Tigers again in 2017 and is looking forward to the side's first sanctioned match-up.
In other action a returning Grafton United will be met with a baptism of fire at Forsyth Park tomorrow when they meet defending Premier League champions Coffs City United Lions.
While it looks a mismatch on paper, club president Kye McPherson has welcomed the early challenge.
"We'll make the most of it and hopefully take the game to Coffs United,” he said.