FFA CUP: False start for newlook Bobcats
FOOTBALL: The Maclean Bobcats are adamant their 1-0 loss to Northern Storm Thunder in round one of the FFA Cup is not a sign of things to come in 2018.
The green machine has recruited well in the off-season but the personnel changes failed to have the desired impact at Rushforth Park, South Grafton on Saturday.
Despite a promising start the Bobcats conceded midway through the first half and could not find an equaliser, bowing out of the knockout competition at the first hurdle.
"We're very disappointed we didn't get through," coach Dennis Mavridis said.
"There were a lot of simple things we got wrong. Turnovers of possession in areas where it just shouldn't happen. Our passing accuracy was a lot lower than what I've come to expect."
"I know the lads quite well and I know they can do better in those areas."
Captain Jarred Doyle admitted he and fellow striker Fraser Marsh both had opportunities to draw the Bobcats level.
"We had the ascendancy and they caught us on the break," Doyle said. "We went into our shell, took the foot off the pedal and didn't really play well until the second half when we had a few chances, but they didn't go in for us.
"No excuses really. We were patchy I guess, and lacking a bit of fitness.
"It is disappointing because we wanted to go further into the cup this year, but our goal first and foremost is to make the semis (in Premier League) and I think we've got a good enough team this year to push every team we play against."
Attention now turns to the opening round of the North Coast Football Premier League competition on April 8.
"It's not going to phase us too much," Mavridis said.
"We've been quite positive throughout the pre-season. We have got a few new recruits, and it's just about them finding their place in the squad and players linking up again.
"Five weeks is still plenty of time to work on things. We'll just get our heads down and make sure we're right for the season now we've been knocked out of the FFA Cup."
The new recruits include Scotsman Gary Burns in centre midfield and Riley Bender, who both played for Majos in 2017, Travis Armstrong returning from a three-year stint with Yuraygir Utd and Sean Potter at right back.
"Sean has got a lot of quality about him and you can tell he's played at high level," Doyle said.
Despite going down to a side who Maclean defeated twice in 2017, Doyle was confident the building blocks are in place for an elusive top four league finish this season.
"We are shaping up for a good year. There's plenty at training and we've picked up a few quality players off the roads."
The Bobcats' next assignment is play another trial this Saturday against favourites Coffs Coast Lions at Coffs Harbour.
"That will be a good test of where we're at," Doyle said.