The first midweek round of National Premier Leagues WA matches takes place on Wednesday with Cockburn City looking to maintain their strong start to the campaign.
The Cockerels are second on the ladder, behind Bayswater City on goal difference, and have lost just once in 10 matches. Victory at Floreat Athena in Round 11 will take them to within one league win of the eight they achieved in the whole of 2017.
Coach Scott Miller says his players have developed a new level of resilience this season.
“It’s a good start in what is a pretty tight league,” he said.
“A lot of those games could have gone either way so I’m happy they are going in our direction.
“The players have a lot more resilience because they have come through close games. They are more experienced.
“Last year we were very nervous towards the end of games but the players have a little bit more maturity and have been in the team for two or three years now. That’s no excuse any longer.”
Instrumental to Cockburn’s progress has been Luccas Mello, whose hat-trick against his former club Balcatta took him to six goals for the season.
“He’s one of those blokes you would pay to watch,” Miller added.
“He’s got his tricks and fast feet but it also usually ends with a shot on goal or a ball into the right area. He’s got the ability to do it at the right time.”
This year’s competition has been noted for its surprise results and Miller says this is the most unpredictable season he can recall.
He added: “Teams such as Bayswater and Perth have dropped points you wouldn’t normally expect. In past seasons you’d see a match and say that’s three points, but not this year. You see the weekend win from Forrestfield, while Stirling Lions were unlucky not to beat Perth, so it’s hard to call.”
Another challenge for coaches this week will be managing their squads, especially those facing successive midweek matches on the back of last week’s FFA Cup ties.
“It definitely tests the resources,” Miller added. “I guess it gives us a chance to play a couple of the young boys.”
The topsy-turvy nature of the NPL which Miller touched upon was highlighted by Floreat’s 4-0 home loss to Armadale on the weekend. Athena went into the game on the back of successive league and cup wins over Bayswater but had no answer to Armadale’s firepower.
That win lifted Armadale to 10th and they will really be on the up if they can turn over Perth Glory, who lost top spot after slipping up against Inglewood United.
Inglewood, another side whose form is building, are at home to Perth SC on Wednesday, while leaders Bayswater travel to Sorrento.
Forrestfield United, buoyed by their superb 6-1 win at ECU Joondalup, host Subiaco, ECU are at home to Balcatta and Joondalup United take on Stirling Lions.
Joondalup United v Stirling Lions (Percy Doyle Reserve, 6.30pm)
Armadale v Perth Glory (Alfred Skeet Reserve, 7pm)
Floreat Athena v Cockburn City (E&D Litis Stadium, 7pm)
ECU Joondalup v Balcatta (ECU Joondalup Football Stadium, 7pm)
Inglewood United v Perth SC (Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium, 7pm)
Forrestfield United v Subiaco (Wildlife Safari Stadium, 7pm)
Sorrento v Bayswater City (Percy Doyle Reserve, 8.30pm)