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East Gosford v Terrigal

Looking to build on the momentum from their inaugural win of the season, East Gosford will host Terrigal for the round 5 match of the round as the Rams attempt to hand the league leaders their first loss at Hylton Moore Oval come Sunday.

2023 saw East Gosford mark their return to the MPL competition and after a year of holding their own against the rest of the competition, the Rams have proven they deserve to be in the pinnacle men’s competition on the Central Coast. 

East Gosford entered the competition last year with a young squad who have now got vital MPL experience under their belts and will be determined to not just survive in the league but to be competitive and push for a place amongst the top four. 

Another big change for the Rams this season is the introduction of Troy Ward as their head coach. Ward has had success in the lower ranks coaching at the Rams in previous years and now faces the tough challenge of MPL football, one which he is eager to confront. 

“The transition into head coach has been relatively smooth. A lot more work than I’m used to but very rewarding also. The players have been excellent too which has also made it a smooth transition,” voiced Ward.

Ward also made his ambitions and goals clear for the season ahead. “I want to build a good squad culture from the ground up. My goals are to get the squad to see their potential and push ourselves to finish at the top end of the ladder.”

This year MPL competition is one of the most competitive to date and East Gosford have already experienced that as the Rams came up short in their opening two fixtures. 

In their first game of the year, Wardy’s men travelled to Wadalba Sports Complex to face Kanwal and despite an explosive start, Kanwal came from behind to win 5-2. 

Their second fixture was much of the same as the Rams battled against Budgewoi but came up just short again in a 2-1 defeat. 

It wasn’t until last weekend that East Gosford played to their full potential for the entirety of the match to walk away 2-0 victors against Woy Woy. 

After their opening three games, Ward voiced what his side have learnt so far in the campaign. “We’ve learnt that there are no easy games, and we have to compete for a full 90-plus minutes. We will look to improve our mindset and show we can compete with the best.”

East Gosford are now gearing up for another difficult challenge as they face last year’s Grand Finalist and current unbeaten league leaders Terrigal. These two sides did meet back in pre-season as Ward is anticipating another competitive matchup. 

“I expect a very tight and fast-paced game, different to the pre-season cup match which we came away with the win. A football war basically. Two teams competing hard with neither wanting to give an inch.”

“We will need to stick to what we have been doing. We are building nicely and competing well as seen in the Budgewoi game where that could’ve gone either way and taking the points against an in-form Woy Woy. Trust our process and believe in each other.”

Terrigal will still be feeling the highs of their Ash Grant Cup win over reigning League Champions and Premiers Killarney. After a gruelling ninety minutes under the bright lights of Pluim Park, the O’lads battled their way to a 1-0 win, marking the first clean sheet of their campaign. 

Terrigal, who also have a new head coach in Ryan Pearce, have hit the ground running in 2024 and are currently the only team with three wins from three games. 

Losing multiple key players from their team who have been an instrumental part of their success in recent years, there was quite a bit of uncertainty around this squad heading into the season.

Juggling the difficult challenge of coaching and playing, this hasn’t deterred Pearce who has done a fantastic job so which is evident by their results. Pearce described the competitiveness of the league and also reflects on his positive start to the season. 

“The most surprising thing so far has been the competitiveness of all teams so far. Any team can win on their given day, so preparation and attitude are particularly important.” 

“I can’t say that I expected to be three from three. We are doing our best to take it one week at a time and ensure we are mentally and physically prepared.”

The addition of former Central Coast Mariner Dean Heffernan has provided Terrigal with key experience for the year ahead as Heffernan had been able to command the backline which saw them earn their first clean sheet of the season last week.

Unfortunately for Terrigal, Aidan Bastick’s red card will see him miss the match of the round fixture which could be a huge blow to their attack come Sunday. 

Despite currently being top of the league, Pearce mentions a few minor details that his side needs to address and focus on going forward. 

“We need to be more effective on the ball in certain areas of the field, that will be our focus once the rain goes away and we are able to get back on the park to train.”

Pearce is well aware of the dangers East Gosford possess, suggesting the game will be won or lost in the midfield.

“I expect East Gosford to be fast, fit and full of confidence after their win last week. They have some crafty players on the ball and I’m sure Wardy will have a good game plan for his players. “

“First and foremost, we need to battle and dominate in midfield, will have a game plan but we need to win these areas first in order for it to be successful.”

Match Official – Jasper White

All Round 5 Fixtures –