It’s amazing what a couple of wins in a row can do for a team’s confidence as well as their ladder position.
Just over a month ago Kempsey Saints had received back-to-back football lessons at the hands of Coffs City and Boambee which left them languishing towards the foot of the Coastal Premier League ladder.
Five weeks on, co-coach Evan Clarke admits those two losses provided his team with the early-season reality check they needed ahead of a four-game undefeated run.
It’s catapulted them up the ladder.
“After our first win we had we maybe got ahead of ourselves,” he said.
“Then we played the two top sides in the comp consecutively and copped a lesson off both of those teams which in hindsight weren’t the worst results to have.
“The big difference from then on is we started to really play for each other and get in the fight for the full 90 minutes. We copped those results on the chin.”
Saints have the opportunity to move into the CPL top two with a win over Northern Storm on Saturday although the teams around them still have games in hand.
“You look back a month ago and it looked nearly impossible,” Clarke said.
“We had three big losses in the space of a week where we lost by more than three goals and it was looking like the season might have already got away from us. But we’ve managed to pull that back and now we’re near the pointy end.”
Storm coach Eric McCarthy has plenty of respect for Saints who have beaten Port United and Port Saints in the last three weeks.
“You have to respect someone winning four in a row; anyone who beats Port United I have great respect for,” he said.
McCarthy knows his team have games in hand over Saints themselves and with a bit more luck they would have been looking at a higher ladder position.
They gave up a 2-0 lead to draw 2-all with Coffs United and Port Saints and they also conceded late to draw 2-all with Boambee in their opening six matches.
“We only have ourselves to blame about where we are on the table,” the coach conceded.
“But we’ve only lost once and that was by a slender margin. We’ve played all the heavyweights.
“Beat Kempsey Saints at the weekend and beat Tigers on Tuesday night and we’re in the top four.”
In other matches, Coffs Tigers host Taree Wildcats and Macleay Valley travel to Sawtell.
Port United and Coffs City United will head to Newcastle for the FFA Cup so their round one matches will be played at a later date.