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Killarney v Berkeley Vale

In a rematch of the 2024 Association Cup Grand Final, Killarney will host their inaugural match of the round for this season as they look to get one back over the Wombats and hand Berkeley Vale their first loss of the year. 

Chris Ackerley’s historical squad who have won seven consecutive MPL League Champion titles find themselves in an unfamiliar spot on the ladder after their opening four rounds as the Terriers possess a record of two wins and two losses to put them in sixth place. 

Killarney kickstarted their 2024 campaign welcoming MPL newcomers Budgewoi to Edsacc Oval for a Saturday night fixture. However, it was a night to forget for the Terriers who recorded losses in all three games and failed to register a single goal in all three grades as well. 

Although Ackerley’s men were able to win in their next fixture against Woy Woy, it was a nervy game for the boys in black and white who clawed their way back from 1-0 down to claim an important 2-1 victory. 

Their next fixture saw them meet rivals Terrigal for a rematch of the 2023 First Grade Final and leg 1 of the 2024 Ash Grant Cup. Once again it was not to be for Killarney who failed to find the back of the net and went down 1-0 to the O’lads. 

Only scoring two goals in their first three fixtures was a worrying sign for this Killarney side. Nonetheless, Killarney looked like their old ways last weekend as the goals were flowing for Ackerley’s men. 

Killarney recorded a 5-2 victory to secure their second win of the season as they look to build on that result when they face Berkeley Vale this Sunday. 

Sunday will mark just their second home game of the season as the Terriers will be raring to go and looking to make Edsacc Oval the fortress it has been for the last half-decade. 

Despite a far-from-ideal start to the season with the wet weather causing their schedule to change constantly, Ackerley commented that not much has shocked him about the competition as he states his side has been managing to the best of their ability. 

“Nothing has surprised me at the moment as it’s been quite stop-start so no one side has really been able to get in a rhythm.”

“It’s been hard with all the rain with many missed sessions, you can only do so many gym sessions, so when we can get on fields it’s trying to make it as game-like as possible.”

Ackerley however did state that his side needs to do a better job when converting opportunities which have cost them already this season. 

“We have learnt that we have to be more clinical in front of goals as all games this season are going to be a battle and taking your chances is going to be crucial.”

Ackerley also spoke on the opposition with high praise as he prepares for another difficult encounter with the Wombats “Berkeley are an extremely tough and young side who are well organised and disciplined, and who like to play football.” 

“We will have to defend well and concentrate for the full ninety minutes as well as take any chances that come our way to get the three points on Sunday.”

It’s been quite the start to the season for Mark Pratt, Andre Gumprecht and their squad. Berkeley Vale were crowned the 2024 Association Cup winners after defeating Killarney 2-0 to wrap up their undefeated pre-season. 

The Wombats also made it further than any other CCF club in the Australia Cup before they were ultimately eliminated by NPL outfit Apia Leichhardt in round 5. 

Berkeley’s tremendous pre-season form carried into the MPL competition, defeating another title contender in Southern & Ettalong 4-1 in their opening fixture. 

Berkeley followed that up with a 1-0 win in front of a home crowd over a resilient Kanwal side. 

Berkeley Vale are one of just two teams who are yet to play only three games at this stage of the season as the wet weather has drastically affected the Wombats who now are looking for some consistency in their season.

“It’s unfortunate that the weather came when it did as we felt that we started the season really well and were on a roll, now we are like everyone else with training and inconsistency, so I feel that we need to be sure to work as hard as possible to get back to where we were,” described Pratt. 

Reflecting on the games so far, Pratt feels like his team must be more merciless when putting the opposition to the sword. “We need to probably be more ruthless with the opposition when we get on top, take our opportunities and not allow them into the game.”

“For me, there have been no real surprises so far as we are all early into the season and with every team being disrupted by the weather teams including ours can struggle for consistency,” added Pratt. 

Entering Sunday having already recorded a win over the opposition should give Berkeley the advantage, but Pratt and his side know they must be at their very best if they wish to walk away from Edsacc Oval with all three points to their name. 

“I would expect nothing different from any other time that we play Killarney a hard-fought tight game of football”

“We will need to start well and get on top early, and this week take the chances that present themselves as I know Killarney will take theirs.”

Match Official – Trent Dickeson

All Round 7 Fixtures –