There is a lot on the line at Optus Park on Saturday when Macleay Valley Rangers host Port Saints.
A win for the Port Macquarie side could see them move one win clear of the chasing pack in the Coastal Premier League top four should other weekend results go their way.
The importance of a good performance and a positive result is not something that is lost on Rangers coach Simon Tamblyn.
“It’s an early one to be calling in your season, but it’s one of those where it’s definitely a need-to-win game to stay in touch,” he said.
“You can’t afford teams to get too far in front of you especially if you want to be in that top four position.”
Rangers will need to fix some of their defensive frailties which reared their head in last weekend’s 5-0 loss to Coffs Coast.
In their three defeats so far this season the Macleay side has leaked 11 goals while they still conceded two in an 8-2 rout of Kempsey Saints a month ago.
“When you’re that dominant in a game (8-2) you shouldn’t be letting two goals in,” Tamblyn said.
“The defence wasn’t good enough to stop a good attacking side last week so we’ve got a couple of holes we need to plug.”
He remains confident his side has the ability to mix it with the frontrunners of the competition although whether they can put it together consistently is a concern.
“I think when we get it all together we’ll have no problems but we’ve still got deficiencies that are happening,” he said.
“We’ve identified areas where we were probably a bit soft last week.”
While Saints coach John Goodman would happily take all three points from the trip north, he felt a defeat wouldn’t be terminal for his team’s season.
“For me it’s getting through the first round of games and we’ll see from there, but I’d like to keep in touch with the top four, that’d be nice,” he said.
“I’m looking for three points, that’s all there is to it. Three points and hopefully we can play the way we want to play.”
In other matches, Port United host Kempsey Saints, Coffs City United clash with Taree Wildcats and Sawtell face Coffs Coast.
Northern Storm and Boambee face off at Korora Oval on Sunday.