FOR four of Port United’s players, Saturday’s local derby with Port Saints will be their second match in three days.
For Eli Wade, Matt Broderick, Jack Pilgrim and Matt Bale it also doubles as the midway point in a busy schedule of three games in five days.
The quartet will line up on Tuesday night against the Newcastle Jets for a Football Mid North Coast northern zone representative side in the trial match against the A-League grand finalists.
United coach Nathan Wade will have his work cut out between now and then as he tries to manage his playing squad as well as possible.
Broderick and Troy Berecry returned in reserve grade on Thursday night after missing the last couple of weeks.
Berecry hasn’t played since suffering a knee injury in their FFA Cup clash with Lambton Jaffas.
“Troy hasn’t played in about six weeks since he had a knee injury where he jarred it on the synthetic field in the game against Lambton,” Wade said.
“Brods has been away for a few weeks so he’ll have to bide his time before he returns to first grade.”
Wade was hopeful he could start to get some consistency with his squad in the run to the finals following a stop-start season.
“It’s important for us to string a few wins together because if we win the next two it will cement our spot in third,” he said.
“The competition is pretty tight, but we’re happy with where we’re at.”
United won the last local derby with Saints 5-3 and similar scoreline could be on the cards on Saturday.
“It’s a local derby, so anything can happen, but it might be an entertaining match,” Wade said.
“With the way Dixie Park is at the moment there should be plenty of attack.”
Port Saints coach Rubens Camejo believes his side has the ability to be leading the competition, but their leaky defence has put an end to that.
“It’s one of the anomalies of football,” Camejo said.
“Any team that scores two and a half goals a game should be leading the competition.”
Saints have scored one less goal than ladder-leaders Wallis Lake although the Wallis defence has been almost water tight.
They have conceded 26 goals fewer than Saints.
Saints haven’t given up hope of playing in the finals.
“We have two goals – one is to stay ahead of Wauchope and the other is the goal of the finals as unlikely as it is,” Camejo said.
“While it is mathematically possible we will still aim to play in the finals.”
The Saints boss feels his team can get something from their rivals from the other side of Hastings River Drive.
“They are very beatable as Wauchope provided so if they can do it, there is no reason we can’t,” he said.
The action kicks off at 3pm on Saturday at Dixie Park.