PREVIEW: Flying start for new competition
The Coastal Premier League kicks off this weekend as ten of the best clubs between Woolgoolga and Taree merge to create an exciting new league for the North Coast regions.
Here is a preview of the the opening round action and how each club shapes up ahead of the much-anticipated start.
Kempsey Saints v Sawtell Scorpions - Eden St, 1pm and 3pm
The first match of the Round sees new boys Sawtell Scorpions travel to Kempsey on Saturday afternoon. Sawtell has had a complete overhaul since their mid table finish in last years ‘Div 1’, and with Jody Jenkins in charge, they are an unknown heading into the season, but if Jody’s experience is anything to go by, they are certainly a team to watch.
Jenkins, a retired professional footballer, spent his early years at AFC Bournemouth before moving to the Welsh Premier League with clubs Barry Town and Croesyceiliog.
Kempsey are led by Kevin Sinclair who has been around the Saints for over 20 years coaching every age group between 6s to First Grade. The club’s preseason has been particularly strong, with a few good results pushing them to the 5th Round of the FFA Cup, where a narrow 1-0 defeat to Bangalow knocked them out of the competition.
Port Saints v Macleay Valley Rangers - Findlay Park, 1pm and 3pm
Two Football Mid North Coast heavyweights come up against each other in Round One, with Port Saints hosting Macleay Valley Rangers.
The Rangers are one of the most successful teams in the competition, coming in second last year behind Port United FC in the FMNC Premier League. They’re always a team to watch, and have kept a large portion of their playing squad.
Port Saints finished fourth in the regular season last year, and are another regular contester in the Southern competition. Their victory against a revamped Coffs United Lions in the FFA Cup in February also sent warning signs throughout the competition as a team to watch in the Coastal Premier League.
Northern Storm v Taree Wildcats - Korora, 1pm and 3pm
The two furthest teams clash in Round One, with Taree travelling the 230 km up the highway to Korora on Saturday afternoon. And as a late entry into the competition, the Wildcats will want to make a strong impression to show they’re not there to make up the numbers.
Northern Storm have finished middle of the pack for the last few years, but with a strong core playing squad who have been together for many years, the new challenge of the CPL cannot be understated. This match-up is an exciting one for Coffs locals on Saturday afternoon.
Coffs United Lions v Port United - Maclean St, 4pm and 6pm
The match of the round sees a strong Coffs United Lions take on Port United FC on Saturday night. Coffs United will revel in once again hosting night matches at the relocated “Den”. It’s been many years since they’ve had the capacity to host Premier League night matches, and there’s no better way to start than a Round One encounter with Port United.
This match up with arguably Port Macquarie’s strongest team should create a fantastic atmosphere to launch the CPL season.
Boambee FC v Coffs Coast Tigers - Ayrshire Park, 1pm and 3pm
Boambee FC were last years runaway winners in the Northern competition, and have been the best Premier League outfit in the North Coast region for the past few seasons. They have strengthened their squad in the preseason, and will be the benchmark for CPL 2020.
However, if there’s a team who can test them in Round One, it’s Coffs Coast Tigers. They head into this match as the underdogs, but that’s a tag that suits them well.