NATHAN Wade had arguably one of the best seats in the house when the Newcastle Jets visited Port Macquarie last year.
He was water boy for the Football Mid North Coast northern zone side who rated themselves a genuine chance of at least scoring against the A-League club.
They knew they weren’t going to win, but fancied getting on the scoreboard.
But within 10 minutes that had all changed as northern zone found themselves 2-0 down following the Jets very first handful of shots in the game.
This time around, the Port United boss will have the clipboard in hand as his side aims to improve on their 5-0, 45-minute hammering by the 2017/18 A-League grand finalists.
He admitted the northern side would have a more conservative approach to the game at Regional Stadium.
“We want to try and attack them, but we’ll be a bit more defensive-minded,” Wade said.
“We can’t attack as much as we thought we were going to be able to so we won’t tell our fullbacks to be wing-backs and overlap our wingers.
“You can have the best-laid plans but the class is completely different.”
United and Macleay Valley Rangers dominate the northern side with eight players in the side, while Kempsey Saints (two), Wauchope (two) and Port Saints (three) are all represented.
United trio Matt Broderick, Matt Bale and Jack Pilgrim will try to use their attacking combinations from the Green Bloods in the front third – if the ball gets that far.
“We’re going to try and not be completely defensive,” Wade said.
“The focus was more on scoring a goal last year; the coach said if we lose we still wanted to score a goal.
“They were way too fast and skillful to break down.”
Wade said all local players would benefit from an interchange rule which will be different to the regular three substitutes.
“It’s interchange; they all wanted to come off after 20 minutes last year because they were all gassed,” he said.
“It’s usually the other way around.”
The northern zone coach was also hopeful his side could have a bit more luck on the scoreboard than they did 12 months ago.
“The very first shot the Jets had went in,” he said.
“Last year pretty much every shot they had they scored, so hopefully they might hit the post and the ball will go out this time.”
Some players missed a golden opportunity to go up against the Jets when they made themselves unavailable for the fixture last year.
That hasn’t been the case this time.
“Some who pulled out last year realised it was a missed opportunity; we haven’t had anyone pull out this year,” Wade said.
“All the boys are really excited about it.”