Northern Storm knows they’re not favourites in this weekend’s Coastal Premier League top-of-the-table clash with Coffs City United.
But they’re happy with that and are confident of taking at least a point away from the Lions’ den.
Their slip-up to Coffs Coast Tigers in a midweek catch-up game a week and a half ago is no cause for concern with coach Eric McCarthy feeling like it was a good thing.
“Having a slip-up like that opens everyone’s eyes and makes them focus because we’re coming into a big run of games,” McCarthy said.
In the next five weeks, the Storm has mouth-watering clashes against the Lions, followed by Taree, Port United, Coffs Coast, Port Saints and then Boambee.
“We have to be on our game the next four or five weeks and having Coffs this week gets your tail up and the smell of blood in your nostrils,” the coach said.
“If you can come away from Coffs with a point you’re doing well and if you can come away from them with three points, you’re over the moon.
“We’re not favourites by any means, but we can go there and take three points.”
The Lions are riding a six-match winning streak with a 4-3 win over Port United the only match in the last two months where they have conceded.
Coach Glenn Williams, however, acknowledges they haven’t won anything yet with the last few grand final defeats still burning.
“We haven’t realised our potential over the last few years,” Williams said.
“We lost a few grand finals in a row and have gotten to that point in the season, haven’t played bad in grand finals but haven’t taken the trophy so the players are motivating themselves.
“It makes my job easier because when you’ve got to try and motivate people to do stuff without them wanting to do it it’s a hard job.”
The Storm and Lions have mutual respect for each other.
“We both love playing football against each other; it’ll be a good test,” Williams said.
“They’re the ones you want to test yourself and see where you’re at and have been slowly improving every year.
“They’re certainly back with a vengeance this year.”
In other weekend matches, Port United host Coffs Coast Tigers in a match which looms as important for both sides. United have lost three of their past four and will want to return to the winner’s list – particularly at Dixie Park.
Macleay Valley can move four points clear of cross-town rivals Kempsey with a win at Eden Street while Port Saints face a must-win clash against bottom-placed Taree Wildcats.
Sawtell host Boambee at Toormina Oval.