THE clash between Darley and North Ballarat City was billed as a huge game before the season even started.
There can be doubting that is still the case, but perhaps not for the reasons many would have expected.
On one hand we have North Ballarat City, the reigning premier who thus far has gone through the season undefeated. No surprises there.
On the other hand is Darley, the apparent powerhouse of 2014 that so far has managed just one win and a draw from its five matches.
Few expected the Devils to make such a slow start to the season, but a string of close losses combined with the loss of a number of key players, is enough to furrow some brows at Darley Park.
However, first year coach Jarrod Edwards says there has been a different feeling around the club this week to any other in 2014 – no longer is his club expected to win.
“It might sound funny when you’ve only won one game, but this is the first game we go into a game without any pressure on us,” Edwards said.
“Nobody expects us to go with them, which could give us the freedom we need.”
Brett Bewley will return to Williamstown, although Shane Page has been given the all clear after suffering concussion in the interleague game last week.
Nathan Jackel has also been named to play his first match for the year, having been unavailable due to reality television commitments.
Shane O’Bree also looks set to play his first game for the Devils in 2014, named on the interchange.
For North Ballarat City, Marcus Darmody has not been named after picking up an injury in the interleague match last week, in what will be a big blow to North’s forward line.
However, with Tristan Cartledge coming back into the side, it gives the Northies scope to play an extra big man down forward, with Josh McDermott named to play out of the goal square.
Coach Rob Waters did not return calls from The Courier on Thursday night.
PREDICTION: North City to remain undefeated.