review

CPL halfway report card

Broadly at the halfway mark of the Coastal Premier League (CPL), it’s timely to take a snapshot.
We asked NCF consultant clairvoyant Mysterio to gaze into the crystal football and provide analysis.
Using hocus, pocus and a benchmark of this time last year, Mysterio concluded there were some constants, surgers and sliders in the 2021 CPL campaign.
Certainly comparing this year’s results against the timeline of 2020 is fraught – given the impact of COVID last year which saw the forced cessation of the competition, then a belated ‘start again’, but in Northern and Southern conferences.
All the same, Mysterio crunched the numbers.
Coffs United lead the way in 2021, just as they did at this point last year. Their ‘failure’ to collect every trophy on offer in 2020 has given them a steely underbelly and mindset.
They’ve carried that over into their superb FFA Cup form, stopped agonisingly close to a Round of 32 spot by Newcastle Olympic on Monday.
Boambee sit second, as they did at the halfway point in 2020. They’ve got a rails run and know how to win the big games at season’s end, so it would take a big set to bet against Same Bombers Channel, Same Bombers Time in 2021.
Sitting third this year are the first of the ‘Surgers’ in Port United. Port U were mid-table Moes last year, running seventh and finished winning the Southern CPL grand final.
The next three teams – from fourth to sixth place this season – all sit on 15 competition points. Take solace or beware the ides of 2021 for this group.
They include Northern Storm, Macleay Valley Rangers and Kempsey Saints.
All three of these sides will hold valid aspirations of a finals’ berth, particularly the Storm who’ve weathered an early draw peppered with the big names.
Next on the 2021 ladder are Coffs Tigers in 7th spot, down a little from this time last year when they were purring along in fifth spot.
They’ve had a number of talented yet inexperienced youngsters come into the squad and there’s always some short term pain to pay when you courageously embrace development. For 120 minutes in their FFA Cup tie against Coffs United the teams could only be separated on penalties.

Port Saints are next on the line in 8th spot, whereas this time last year they were running equal second.
Mysterio rates them a can and should do better proposition in the second half of the CPL.
So then to Sawtell, who are sitting ninth and were in a similar position at the halfway point in 2020. They are playing the longer ball game with an investment in youth.
Certainly, the raw talent is there with the Scorpions who had Coffs U on toast before the heavyweights staged a remarkable comeback to force high a scoring draw in Round 4.
Last but far from least in a progress tracking sense are the Taree Wildcats. The numbers don’t say so, but they are a vastly improved outfit this campaign and have gone oh so close on more than a few occasions.

The first round has been epitomised by small margins where a single flash of brilliance or luck has been the difference between three and no points. Many young guns are playing their first season in the CPL and are getting better every week which will continue to unfold in the second half.
Staring hard into the Nether World, and with an ear for the ghosts of campaigns past, Mysterio concluded that Coffs U look likely – while one or two of the others will probably go ‘on a run’ in the latter half.
Or in the words of Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Don Meredith: “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas”.

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