Bellambi coach Jeff Allport admits avoiding relegation has become his top priority as the second half of the Illawarra Premier League gets under way this weekend.
The Rosellas sit in 10th position on seven points, two ahead of Cringila, while South Coast United remain at the bottom on three. Banking results has become critical for all three sides as Allport's men head to Ocean Park to face the Sharks on Saturday.
Bellambi have only two wins in 2021, but head into the game on the back of an impressive 3-0 victory over SCU.
"Avoiding relegation has got be our first priority,'' Allport said.
''But I think it's also important that we don't want to focus too much on where we are on the ladder. We want to keep trying to improve the football that we play and there was evidence of that against South Coast.
"It was pleasing for everyone to first keep a clean sheet, then we also scored three nicely-constructed goals. It was reward for effort. They've worked really hard and it's pleasing to see them get a result. Hopefully that sparks us to put our best foot forward against Woonona."
Saturday's game shapes as equally important for the IPL's reigning premiers, who have produced mixed results so far this season. The Sharks are in seventh spot, two points behind Bulli and equal with Port Kembla on 15 points.
Wollongong Olympic (29), Coniston (25), United (24) and Albion Park (23) have pulled away from the rest of the pack, meaning Woonona, Bulli, Port and the Blueys (13) are fighting for that last spot within the top five.
With so much at stake, Allport expects a fired-up opponent at Ocean Park.
"They wouldn't be happy with where they're sitting. But it's the start of the second round so they will be gearing themselves up for a run at the top five,'' he said.
''I think they will be banking on three points against us, so we need to make it hard as we can for them.
"I like them a lot, they're a structured and well-organised side. They've probably got more threats this year than previously going forward too. And they're very well coached. Whatever they've struggled with, I'm sure they will look to sort it out as soon as possible. But at home, start of the second round, they'll be gearing up to come out all guns blazing."
In Saturday's other IPL games Bulli will host Olympic at Balls Paddock; the Lions tackle Albion Park at Crehan Park; the Blueys meet Wollongong United at Tarrawanna Oval and South Coast United play Port at Ian McLennan Park.
Action wraps up on Sunday with Corrimal hosting Coniston at Memorial Park.
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