The vast expanses of Korora Oval were the main thing Port United coach Nathan Wade took out of last year’s 2-0 win over Northern Storm.
It means this week he has placed a huge emphasis on his team keeping possession as they prepare to head north for the Coastal Premier League match of the round.
Despite their 2-0 win over Port Saints last weekend, Wade knows a repeat performance won’t be enough to knock off Eric McCarthy’s men.
He thought they turned over possession too easily once they got their noses in front in the Port Macquarie derby.
“I thought if we had have been disciplined and kept the ball we might have scored one or two more,” he said.
“Every time it looked like we were going to get on top and put our foot on their throat we turned it over too easily which kept them in the game not on the scoreboard, but in terms of 50-50 possession.”
United head into the match confident after registering a draw and a win from their opening two matches, but they know the Storm will be a step up on previous weeks.
“Them, Coffs United and Boambee are going to be the benchmark this season so we will see how much work we need to do to catch them or if we’re already there,” Wade said.
“We’re excited to play them.”
Storm coach Eric McCarthy was wary of a side who always played with a high level of intensity and effort.
“They play with a lot of intensity, are strong through the middle and create chances so we have to be on our toes,” he said.
He was, however, confident his team’s best was good enough to claim all three points with right back Sam Brown the only man missing from his strongest team.
“With this squad we have this year we have to be knocking on the door of the top four,” he said.
“The guys are at the right age, we’ve got a fabulous blend of the 22-28 year age group and if we turn up and play our game we’ll beat Port.”
Elsewhere, Kempsey Saints will face a step up in opposition when they host ladder-leaders Boambee while Taree Wildcats are once again at home when they host Macleay Valley.
Port Saints host Coffs Coast Tigers and Coffs City United travels to Toormina Oval and a clash with Sawtell.