BATTLE: Sunbury player Lachlan Reinikka and Bargara player Chris McKenzie fight for the ball at Martens Oval.
BATTLE: Sunbury player Lachlan Reinikka and Bargara player Chris McKenzie fight for the ball at Martens Oval. TAHLIA STEHBENS

Sunbury's high hopes for Wide Bay Premier League finals

FOOTBALL: Andrew Howlett has his target firmly on the Wide Bay Premier League's top two despite a challenging start to the season.

Howlett coached Sunbury to the 2017 finals, the only Fraser Coast club to reach the top four, but he has set his team's sights even higher as the Blues chase an overdue premiership.

"Our goal is the top two,” he said. "It will be a great year.

"Anthony Mollee has really stepped up as captain.

"We will build through the first round and improve through the second.”

The loss of key defender Jacob Chapman to Wide Bay Buccaneers and injuries to senior players has been offset by the opportunity to give more Sunbury juniors the chance to play in the region's highest football competition.

A first-round road trip to Brothers Aston Villa did not help as his side tried to start the WBPL season positively.

"We were in the game with Brothers but they're super skillful, super fast, and they'll be the benchmark again this season,” Howlett said.

"We got a few of the hardest clubs to start the season. We had our chances.”

A 3-1 loss to Brothers was followed by a 3-3 draw with Bargara, which has left Sunbury sixth after two rounds.

"It isn't too bad of an issue,” Howlett said.

More of a problem is the next six weeks, during which the club plays one game between the three-week Easter and FFA Cup break, and a fourth-round bye.

The only game Sunbury plays between now and May 12 is an away game to United Warriors, a club rebuilding and blooding young players.

"We're just going through a rebuilding phase and bringing some of those players through,” Howlett said.

Sunbury starts its season with four away games, then plays seven homes games in nine rounds: a crucial run of fixtures that will make or break its finals hopes.