North Coast Football continued their exceptional start to the PS4 NPL season with a strong showing in the first home fixture of the year at Leisure Park on Sunday.
The first two matches of the day were a success – the Under 13’s and 15’s taking maximum points in unconvincing performances, though the Under 14’s weren’t so lucky, losing 3-1 to FMNC.
Whilst the performances were flat across the board, NCF coaches praised the ability of the teams and lamented the lack of training due to bad weather over the past few weeks.
NCF Technical Director Gary McGinnis said “It was always going to be a tough outing against Mid North Coast, but we won 2 of the 3 games, and more importantly the boys showed patches of the football we want them to play. At times we were very good, but we need to work toward consistency.”
“The lack of training hasn’t helped. We started the season so well and I think that comes down to the consistent training we had leading into the season. Over the past few weeks we’ve been held up by the weather, and it showed today.”
The next home game is in two weeks at Coffs Coast Sport and Leisure Park, against the Edgeworth Eagles.
The Under 13’s kicked off at 1pm in perfect conditions. Mid North Coast came out strong and disrupted NCF’s possession game, making it especially difficult for our midfield trio to get on top.
The first half was scrappy, though NCF still managed a goal through Kyan Page, who capitalised on a FMNC mistake.
The first half was far from the 13’s best football, and coach Joe Skrtic gave credit to the boys’ ability to improve and change the way they played in the second half.
“The first half we weren’t playing as a unit, the second half we turned it around and started playing together, playing with a lot more structure and purpose in our attack.”
“Today was the perfect example of the players learning from their mistakes. We spoke about structure and ball possession at half-time, and to their credit they fixed the problems and played much better in the second half.”
Kyan Page bagged a double with another neat finish in the second half, and winger Marcus Field scored the 13’s third to win the match 3-1 against Football Mid North Coast.
The Under 14’s played in the second timeslot of the day, and following the impressive results from both the 13’s and 15’s, the anticipation for a third win and perfect start was high.
However, FMNC weren’t going home without something, and although NCF started stronger, they were quickly overpowered by a more experienced side.
Harry O’Geary opened the scores for North Coast Football from the spot, when Mabior Garang was fouled in the area. It was the only real chance North Coast Football managed for most of the game, largely thanks to the exceptional defensive display by FMNC, led by the ever-present Mason Moore who was instrumental for the visitors in defence.
Their structure and physicality proved too much for NCF, and with three good goals and a few more chances created, the visitors went home deserved winners.
NCF Coach Adrian Pickup said the team who wanted to win came out on top.
“The team didn’t turn up today, we played the football we wanted to play in patches, but couldn’t maintain it. To the oppositions credit they were a good side, and we knew that, but we didn’t show our full potential today.”
“The NPL is a much more physical league than these boys are used to. We’ve had some good results, and played well at times, but today highlighted that there’s still plenty to learn, and one of the key lessons is physicality”.
The 15’s were looking to bounce back from a harsh lesson away from home in Round 6, where they lost 7-0 to a slick Broadmeadow outfit, and although it wasn’t the response coach Brian Linsley was after, he admitted their performance against Football Mid North Coast showed improvement.
A handball inside the box gifted the 15’s a penalty in the 18th minute, and Charlie Alderman stepped up to convert. Alderman then scored NCF’s second against the run of play to give NCF a somewhat undeserved 2-0 lead at the break.
Mid North Coast started the second half with purpose, and scored the two goals they had been pushing for all match. They were unlucky not to take the lead when Xandah Hicks hit the woodwork on the hour mark.
The scores were locked at 2-2 for most of the second period, and although both teams had their chances to finish on top, a great team goal would decide the outcome with the final kick of the ball.
NCF’s Aaron Searle finished off a neat passage down the right wing to put the 15’s ahead 3-2, and coach Brian Linsley was happy to take the three points, though admitted a draw would have been a fair outcome.
“Mid North Coast were direct, we knew they would be fairly direct, and we worked on some structures during the week from our ‘ball possession’ to ‘ball possession opponent’, and we did really well at that at times, other times we made bad decisions on where we played the ball, and when we played it.