Sorrento have the task of halting Perth Glory’s charge at the top of the National Premier Leagues WA table when the teams meet at Percy Doyle Reserve on Saturday afternoon.
John Gibson’s free-scoring side are five points clear and a ninth win in 10 matches would be a giant stride towards a maiden title.
Glory took Sorrento apart 6-1 in the Regional Round match in April and Gulls coach Jamie Harnwell knows they will have to be at their best to avoid another loss.
“This will be an extremely difficult game, especially after how they played against us in Kalgoorlie and the problems they caused us,” he said.
“They have a much older group than they have had before and got real pace in their side. We’ve just seen in the World Cup that pace is the way the game is going.”
Sorrento are still in the thick of the relegation scrap but Harnwell has been encouraged by their own recent form. The Gulls have won three of their last four, including a 4-0 drubbing of Subiaco a fortnight ago, and have moved up to ninth.
He added: “We’ve been pretty pleased with the way we have been playing and even against Inglewood (a game Sorrento lost 2-1) we showed good belief and confidence.
“We have been beating the teams around us so if we can pick up points against the top four sides then that would give us a real boost.”
As for his former club potentially winning the NPL, Harnwell added: “It’s pleasing to see them doing better than previous years – I didn’t enjoy the days when they were getting beaten 6-0 and 7-0. It wasn’t doing anyone any good.
“But the biggest test is how many of them go on to play professionally. We all want to see WA youngsters coming through.”
With just six rounds of the league to go, there is a group of teams hoping Glory slip up including second-place Cockburn City, who are at home to Forrestfield United.
A point behind Cockburn are Bayswater City and Perth SC, who meet at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday. The Azzurri enjoyed a 2-1 win over Cockburn in the last round while Bayswater suffered a fourth straight loss in going down 3-1 to Glory.
Inglewood United, who were off the boil in their loss to ECU Joondalup in Round 20, host Floreat Athena, while Stirling Lions and Subiaco will be desperate for the points at Macedonia Park.
The NPL took a break last weekend for the Belt Up Cup Final, which was won by Armadale. John O’Reilly’s players get back to the bread and butter on Saturday at home to ECU.
Finally bottom club Joondalup United, who have collected just five points all season, host Balcatta although the match will take place at the latter’s Grindleford Reserve home.
Saturday, July 21
Armadale v ECU Joondalup (ECU Football Stadium, 3pm)
Cockburn City v Forrestfield United (Dalmatinac Park, 3pm)
Joondalup United v Balcatta (Grindleford Reserve, 3pm)
Stirling Lions v Subiaco (Macedonia Park, 3pm)
Sorrento v Perth Glory (Percy Doyle Reserve, 3pm)
Inglewood United v Floreat Athena (Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium, 3pm)
Sunday, July 22
Perth SC v Bayswater City (Dorrien Gardens, 3pm)