Gunnedah coach Andy Cygan will be sweating on the colour of the traffic lights when his side takes the park against Kootingal on Saturday. Cygan’s approach to the weekend is a simple one.
“If we have the three international guys there by 3pm, get an early goal, and play with some confidence again after two games where we really didn’t turn up, we can get the result” he said.
Saturday could be the last time we see Gunnedah’s international trio of Bruno Perroni, Bautista Burgos, and Karl-Lembit Usta, who are set to leave due to work commitments.
The inspirational Rob Pryor will also miss the match through unavailability.
“We will need to defend well, stop conceding silly free kicks in bad positions and take our chances in front of goal,” he said.
“We also need to look beyond this last game with these guys [Perroni, Burgos, and Usta] and start sourcing players that will step up from reserves.”
At the other end, the lack of a reserve grade side has proved a hazardous challenge for Kootingal coach Chris Jarrett.
“Overall, the squad is too small this year with just a first-grade team entered for 2021 which has meant that players that should be developing in, or dropping back to, reserve grade have to step up into first grade,” he said.
“To the credit of the team they all play to their hardest for the full 90-minutes and we continue to develop a culture and style of play that I am encouraging.”
The last time these two sides met it was Gunnedah who scored a convincing win, with Kootingal out to write the wrongs from round two’s 12 goal defeat.
“Our goal this week will be to be competitive each half and to get something in the back of their net, Jarrett said.
“This will be a challenge though with two of our starting 11, Michael Woodley and Nathan Climpson.”
At Johnson Field, Oxley Vale Attunga host South United in what is a crucial game for both sides. OVA currently sit at the top-of-the-table, while Souths are fourth.
“The season now goes into a disrupted state with games then weeks off for byes and National Primary games, so the next three weeks are critical games and really are a competition within the competition,” OVA coach Tim Coates said.
Speaking mid-week, Coates was quick to note a level of wariness of the Souths’ attack, who have recorded three wins, three losses and a draw to start the season.
“South’s have some talented players and are a good test for all teams who face them,” he said.
“A good performance this week will see us walk away with a win against one of the sides who have improved consistently since entering the competition last year.”
The home side will be without four regulars for the match, which will likely be won or lost in the middle of the park.
“After the double header weekend as expected we had several players sustain injuries from the heavy schedule,” Coates said.
“Long standing injuries to Brendon Fergie and Harrison George along with Chris Fenton and Bailey Keech will see player depth tested.”
Liam Beddow will also miss the match due to work commitments.
In the weekend’s other match, North Companions play Tamworth at Marius Street. Moore Creek has the bye.