Yamba have point to prove
IT’S a mismatch of biblical proportions, but Goliath is not planning on giving David any breathing space when Maclean meets Yamba in the first-ever North Coast Football (NCF) First Division Lower River derby.
Titleholders and champions-elect the Bobcats have begun their 2010 campaign with the same gusto that resulted in last year’s crown.
Meanwhile new boys Yamba, catapulted into the zone’s top flight after a stellar Second Division season, face the weekly challenge of keeping away from the relegation trapdoor.
Five rounds in, Maclean is yet to drop a point, while the Breakers languish – but don’t expect the favourites to ease up on their little brothers.
“There’s absolute rivalry there because we are neighbours,” Bobcats coach Grant Neilson said.
“I’m expecting Yamba to throw everything they have got at us. Yamba certainly has a lot to prove.
“Like most Lower River clubs there’s a degree of support for one another, but that will all disappear when we get out there.”
Yamba would be mistaken if it believed there was any sense of sympathy from the Bobcats, despite a similar road taken to reach the NCF summit.
Nearly two decades ago Maclean were the easy-beats of the competition, but were given no leniency by rivals – now it’s their chance to return the favour.
“We both want to be the premier team in the Lower River,” Neilson said. “We were in a similar position (as the competition newcomers) about 18 years ago, and we know how hard it is – and we are going to show them how hard it is.”
Despite the task facing his troops, Breakers boss Craig McDonagh says his fledgling club plans on blueprinting Maclean’s rise to the top.
“I think it’s what we need to aim for,” McDonagh said.
“Within the club we were asking if we were up to this (First Division) and we decided we wanted to challenge ourselves.
“Maclean have done it in the past. We need to take the step up now and get established.”
Despite a mutual respect, Yamba is not going to hold back when the teams take to the pitch at 3pm.
“We know we are going to have a tough game. Every game we play this year is treated very similar,” McDonagh said.
The Breakers will enter the contest without inspirational keeper Rod Menzies, who will serve a one-week suspension after being sent off last weekend.
Bobcats midfield weapons Aaron Bylos and Travis Armstrong will miss the contest, but the blow will be offset by the return of dangerous striker Jarrod Doyle.
Bobcats’ starting XI
1. Graeme Courte
2. Lance Knibbs
3. Brad Corbett
4. Gary Carmichael
5. Matt Bryant
6. Daniel Usher
7. Kevin Crofton (c)
8. Jesse Browning
9. Brodon Hurst
10. Fraser Robinson
11. Jarrod Doyle
Breakers’ starting XI
1. Matt Sozou
2. Ben Plunkett
3. Mick Brooker
4. Andrew Bosward
5. Simon Ruse
6. Jack Wiggett
7. Sam Marrott
8. James Doust
9. Luke Luchetti
10. Tristem Edwards
11. Dan Kirk