Gunnedah FC coach Andy Cygan has the utmost confidence in his defensive unit.
He says the players at the back have “been solid” and have only conceded about “three goals in open play all year”.
He says GFC have a mountain of experience and will be hard to score against in Saturday’s Tamworth District Football first grade grand final against Quirindi FC at Scully Park.
And while they’re defence in grand finals has been spotty – Gunnedah FC have conceded seven goals in the last two deciders – Cygan said his team could turn that form around.
“I’m really not sure. I wasn’t there in the grand final two years ago but they actually came back and won that so that wasn’t too bad,” Cygan said of the 2016 decider.
“Last year, Souths just started better than us and we made silly mistakes at the back.
“But that’s something we’ve not done all year – we haven’t made any mistakes.”
Anchoring the defence at the back is Kameron Manks who has missed matches throughout the season due to work commitments.
“Kameron Manks, when he’s there, he’s solid. He doesn't concede many,” Cygan said.
Cygan said Manks was “pretty much guaranteed” to play on Saturday but there would be a number of outs.
Michael Cooke is set to miss the game through suspension while Zac Crowhurst has a neck injury and “at best” will sit on the bench.
Cygan is also nursing a shin injury while David Silver could also miss the game.
“His wife is going to be induced for their first child on Friday. So however long labour takes is going to dictate whether he gets here,” Cygan said.
Cygan expected the game to be “really physical” against Quirindi and their never-say-die attitude.
“I watched them against Kootingal, they were down 2-nil at half-time and in the second half they turned it on and just dominated,” Cygan said of Quirindi’s 3-2 preliminary final win.
“They’ve got good players in certain positions. The two centre midfielders are brilliant and they’ve got two big, tall guys at the back that are hard to break down.
“We’ve gotta play better, do the right things and if we can get on top in the midfield, we’ll be a good chance of winning.”
With the game being played at Scully Park Cygan said this would allow his team to play at their best.
Gunnedah FC captain Matt Williams agreed.
“That is our game plan [to pass the ball around]. That is what we talk about before the game and at half-time,” Williams said.
“Unfortunately on a couple fields, especially at Gipps Street, we do have to modify our game a bit.
“But getting that good surface [at Scully Park] it should push the percentages in our favour and we won’t have to rely on those through balls.”
However, Williams said Quirindi FC wouldn’t be easy-beats in the big dance.
Head-to-head, Gunnedah FC have won all three encounters but the last two victories have been 1-0 scorelines.
“They’re the one team who, when they are down, always think they can comeback and win,” Williams said.
“It definitely won’t be easy but having beaten them a few times now, we know we can do it.”
Williams – who is in his third season at Gunnedah FC and his second as captain – said there was two players he expected to go to another level on Saturday.
“I know Andy [Cygan] does,” Williams said.
“At the same time, being English, the minor premiership is really important to him but he also does love the big games.
“So does Welington Sardinha. He gets fired up. He’s all about the preparation.
“Being one of the eldest guys on the team, he probably has to put in a bit more preparation than others but he’s encouraging everyone to do the same.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.