Bombers and Lions in a battle to claim underdog status ahead of season decider

Only in 2020 would a team that has won three of the past four grand finals be considered an underdog.

But that’s exactly the position Boambee finds itself in ahead of Saturday night’s Coastal Premier League northern conference decider.

The Bombers will clash with a Coffs City United side that has swept everything before them this season, but Boambee have the knowledge they can upset the apple cart.

They were one of only two teams to beat the Lions and while coach Jon Fergusson admitted “you’re better off to be in a grand final than not”, he was more than happy to claim  the outsiders tag ahead of the match.

“The Lions have won a lot of games, came first in the CPL and then finished first in the northern zone CPL so it would be accurate to say they’re favourites,” he said.

“In terms of their attack there’s a lot of variety where they can produce team-based goals, there are guys who can score individual goals and they’re strong from set pieces.

“You’d be a fool to say they don’t have any attacking prowess.”

Coffs City has also only conceded one goal in their last 540 minutes of football – that came against Boambee on October 7.

Fergusson, however, said his team were up for the battle and there was no lack of confidence in the playing group around their ability to compete and win the game.

The teams have split the three encounters this season evenly with both sides registering a win each while the last encounter was a 1-all draw.

“We’ve twice gone to Maclean Street this year, played them and only conceded one goal and that was from the penalty spot,” Fergusson said.

“The players know Coffs’ strengths and what they have to do to try and nullify them so we just then have to see if we can demonstrate that.

“There’s every chance we’re going to be playing a long match.”

Lions coach Glenn Williams said they were definitely not calling themselves favourites, “but if you look at this year’s form maybe other people may not see it that way”.

His side has its own proud record in grand finals with 2020 being their sixth grand final appearance in the last seven years.

“We didn’t make the grand final last year, but we lost the two before that and won the three prior to that so we have had a little bit of a mixed bag,” he said.

Williams was aware of the strengths of his opposition who will have gained plenty of confidence out of their recent grand final experiences.

“They have the basis of those teams there,” he said.

“They are very explosive in attack so they tend to counter-attack very well which makes them a little bit unpredictable.”

After such a successful campaign, the importance of achieving the right result on Saturday evening was not lost on the Coffs coach.

“Australians have been trained to watch grand finals whatever sport it is, so in that way everyone remembers the winner of a grand final rather than who finished first past the post,” he said.

In a lengthy season that started in July, plenty of players and spectators will be looking forward to the full-time whistle.

“I think all the wives and girlfriends and families are fairly well over it, but that’s not taking anything away from tomorrow night,” Williams said.

“There will be a few sighs of relief next Monday or Tuesday when we don’t have to rock up to training.”

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