Eastern Wanderers brace for big-name blockbusters

WANDER NO MORE: Shaun Reddy in action for the Eastern Wanderers earlier this season.

WANDER NO MORE: Shaun Reddy in action for the Eastern Wanderers earlier this season.

Football

THE Eastern Wanderers are about to find out exactly where they sit in the Billabong Cup pecking order.

The Wagga outfit takes on the competition's two best teams in Griffith over the next two rounds, starting with Sunday afternoon's blockbuster clash against in-form Hanwood FC.

It doesn't get any easier next week as champions Yoogali Soccer Club await, but coach Andrew Douglas told The Area News his side is not shying away from the daunting task at hand.

"We're under no illusions over what's in front of us," he said.

"This is the reason we've come into the Griffith comp - to challenge ourselves.

"We won't be beating around the bush.

"We're not here to make up the numbers, at the end of the day. We'll be pushing them as hard as we can, we'll be looking to put them off their game a bit.

"At the end of it we'll have a good idea of what we need to work on or if we're thereabouts."

While the Wanderers are a new entity, many at the club are familiar with HFC and YSC, both sides having previously played in the Wagga competition for a number of years.

Douglas expects Hanwood to be as skilful and professional as ever.

"They're obviously a quality club that's been around and done it all," he said.

"Hanwood do the business on gameday and treat every match with respect.

"They're a lot more entrenched and organised than we possibly are at the moment, but it's going to be a good challenge anyway."

Eastern Wanderers are set to take their best possible side over to Hanwood Oval after Douglas confirmed both Cam Mavor and Bai Fahnbullah will return to the starting line-up.

Kane Baumer will also likely take part in the match, but he will back up from reserve grade and come off the bench as the Wanderers look to ease him back to full fitness.

"We'll be going in pretty hard, we'll hopefully mix it with them and see what comes of it," Douglas said.

Hanwood FC coach Anthony Agresta, who played in the Wagga competition at the start of his senior football career, is expecting a tough encounter against the Wanderers.

But his side will be boosted by the return of midfielder Michael Bresolin and defender Joey Gioia, who both missed last week's 8-1 rout of Yenda.

"I know when I first started playing first-grade we were over there (in Wagga) for three or four years before we went to Shepparton," Agresta said.

"They always had strong clubs like Lake Albert and Tolland and them only having the one team is going to make it a fairly strong side.

"I haven't been able to get a look at them but from all reports they'll be pretty fit and a big side, too.

"They're going to be a tricky proposition.

"We've just got to go out there the way we would any other game.

"The first 10-15 minutes is going to be about getting a feel for each other and we'll adapt from there - that's all you can do when you go in blind."

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