Select Page

Berkeley Vale v Woongarrah

A fixture that was originally set to headline the opening game of the 2024 MPL season, will once again feature as the Match of the Round for our Round 1 replay this weekend as in-form Berkeley Vale will host a hungry Wildcats side.

Berkeley Vale’s tremendous start to the season sees the Wombats remain undefeated throughout pre-season, including the Australia Cup in which they have now qualified for the fifth round. Their undefeated streak also includes being crowned the 2024 Association Cup winners.

Their outstanding pre-season form has now rolled over into their opening round fixture last weekend when Mark Pratt’s side had the difficult challenge of travelling to James Browne Oval last Saturday night to face title contenders Southern.

After an intense ninety minutes against the Lions, Berkeley Vale walked away with a 4-1 win to claim all three points away from home. 2023 MPL Player of the Year Jakeb Brownlow played an immense part in his team’s victory as he continues to improve on his success on the pitch from last season.

Late signing Scott McGinley has also made his mark, joining the Wombats from NPL outfit Valentine FC as he joins his brother in the middle of the park to provide some valuable experience to the younger players in the squad.

Pratt commented on the current morale within the club and also how his team has recovered after a busy schedule last week juggling the Australia Cup with Round 2 of the MPL competition.

“Obviously the morale is good but as I said before it’s really just an extension on from last year we have a good squad that enjoys training, playing, and socialising together. Everyone has pulled up fine, we have no injuries after last week.”

Despite enjoying this excellent run of form, Pratt knows the squad can always build week to week and raise their standards.

“There’s always areas of improvement across the whole of the team, it’s still early in the season but if we can improve on basic fundamentals then that will help us consolidate where we are as a group.”

After such a hot start to the season, the Wombats will now find a target on their backs as they continue to cement themselves as the title favourites.

Despite a below-par performance last weekend, Pratt knows the quality the opposition possesses and is anticipating a difficult battle come Saturday night. “Woongarrah is a team full of stars,” stated Pratt.

“They are obviously a very strong team that has high ambitions, they can’t rely on a siege mentality like the past. They have invested in high-quality pedigree players with an expectation to play good football and win games in a technically correct way.”

From one team in incredible form to their opposition who enters the weekend coming off a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Avoca in Round 2.

Woongarrah entered the new season with a lot of eyes on them after their highly active off-season recruiting players of high calibre. This includes the notable names of former Central Coast Mariners Josh Rose and Jacob Melling as well as NPL talents Dylan Holtz, Matthew Lewis, and Matthew Johnson.

All but Rose from that list of names featured in their opening fixture of the year when the Wildcats welcomed Avoca to their home of Hamlyn Terrace.

The home side started the opening 20 minutes of that fixture in the driver’s seat, dictating play and controlling possession whilst looking to break down the opponents.

However, Luke Rogers’s men conceded against the visitor’s first real attempt in the game and from there they struggled immensely which led to the 6-0 defeat. “Not going to lie, there are a few sore bodies in the team. The Australia Cup game we played on Wednesday night was on a tough synthetic pitch.”

“To back it up with our first competitive game of the season on Sunday after not playing in almost three weeks was always going to leave a few casualties. We will just manage that through the week and hopefully get all the lads on the park come Saturday night,” voiced Rogers.

Although they didn’t get their season off to the start they hoped for, Rogers is adamant that the team spirit is still high within the camp. “Morale is great! We know we are still a whole new side, and our cohesiveness isn’t quite there yet.”

“Obviously not happy with losing at the score line we did but Avoca played really well, and we were far from our best. We have an experienced side that knows the competition isn’t won in round 1.”

With their sights now firmly set on Berkeley Vale, Woongarrah will be itching to get back on the pitch to make amends for their subpar performance, and what better way to do that than against the competition favourites.

Rogers admitted, “We need to be better in every aspect of our game to be honest because on Sunday we didn’t really get anything right.”

Expect to see a different Woongarrah performance this Saturday night under the bright lights of Mingara Oval.

Match Official – Luke Dunkerley

All Round 1 Fixtures –