DESPITE a horror start to the season, Sorrento coach Jamie Harnwell is still targeting the top four and sees Saturday’s bottom three clash against Floreat Athena as vital for his side’s finals hopes.
The Gulls are in dreadful form, losing six of their last seven games and slipping from fourth after round 5 to the relegation zone as the National Premier Leagues WA season hits the halfway mark.
Floreat are under even more pressure – second from bottom and struggling with injuries and suspensions – and Howard Tweat’s side are in a position no one in the league would envy.
Floreat lost skipper Dean Evans and midfielder Calvin Whitney after the pair was sent off in last week’s defeat to Subiaco.
With three teams scheduled for relegation at the end of the season, even this early on it could be a tense afternoon at Percy Doyle Reserve.
However, Harnwell is still quite optimistic for the Gulls’ season.
“We are not thinking of the bottom three, we are still trying to make the top four,” he said.
“So it’s not a must-win in regards to relegation, but in terms of the top four, it’s getting close.”
Harnwell’s optimism is what his side will want to hear but that does not mean he is blind to their position.
The Sorrento coaching staff and players sat down at training on Tuesday to analyse its most recent defeat in hopes of arresting its poor run of form.
“There’s no magic formula, just hard work,” Harnwell said.
“We are not keeping the ball well enough and players are switching off; the players looked again at the goals from the weekend and they scratched their heads wondering how they conceded.
“Our focus is on possession and keeping the ball better. It is good that we are all on the same page.”
Turning to this weekend’s match, Harnwell said both sides find themselves in unfamiliar territory.
“I don’t think either team has been in this position for some time,” he said.
“Like all teams they’ve been feeling the busy schedule and now they have two players suspended. Evans has been one of (Floreat’s) best players in the league.”
Joondalup United are the only side below Sorrento and Floreat and Harnwell agreed that Nick Jennings’ team produced a stunning upset with its first win of the season last Saturday.
Joondalup can move to within six points of safety if it follows up victory over Inglewood with three points at Perth SC on Saturday.
Inglewood, heavily criticised by coach Andy Keogh following that 3-1 loss, hosts Balcatta, while Subiaco could do themselves a big favour with victory at Perth Glory.
Leaders Bayswater City can go six points clear at the top of the table with victory over ECU Joondalup and if other results go their way.
Out to prevent that will be second-placed Cockburn City, who travels to Armadale.
Stirling Lions, who have found a bit of form, are at home to Forrestfield United.