HEADING SOUTH: Goonellabah defender John Eakin, who today plays his last game for the club before moving to Griffith to take up
HEADING SOUTH: Goonellabah defender John Eakin, who today plays his last game for the club before moving to Griffith to take up

Rovers keen to hit back

By MARK ROBINSON AFTER their first loss, competition leaders Richmond Rovers will be determined to re-assert themselves when they host Lismore rivals Italo Stars today in Football Far North Coast Premier League soccer.

A 3-0 loss to Goonellabah ended Rovers?? dream start to the season and was compounded by central defender Beau Weekes being sent off.

His absence will force player-coach Tim Sheridan to start himself at sweeper, but by his own admission he has not been in the best of form.

He predicts the game will be won in midfield, where Scott Coster, Ian McGregor and Russell Dent are likely to battle it out with Stars?? Latimer brothers and Jamie Austen.

Stars?? defence is also likely to be revamped, with a torn hamstring ruling out Matt Weir and doubts over Rick Austen, Craig Wiblen and Troy Williams.

The entire back four could be missing, but in such a vital game they are more likely to play while carrying injuries, which could prove risky against Rovers?? fast-paced attack. Eakin??s swansong THE departure of one of Goonellabah??s favourite sons, John Eakin, will provide huge motivation for the Hornets today, when they travel to Bangalow for their showdown with the Bluedogs.

The imposing central defender has taken a teaching position at Griffith and after starting with the club in Under-7s, he will play his last game for the Hornets.

His team-mates will accept nothing short of a win as a fitting send-off and that looks likely after their confidence-boosting 3-0 victory over the previously undefeated competition leader Rovers.

The Hornets will start an unchanged line-up, while Bangalow could have some late changes after Sebastian Bell, Tom Inoue and Rob Cooper return from a week of competition in the NSW Schoolboys selection trials at Nowra. Moment of truth BALLINA has been the surprise success story of the competition so far, but the Seahorses face their moment of truth today when they host the in-form premiers Byron Bay at Saunders Park.

Three wins from five games has lifted Ballina to fourth, just a point behind the Bay, and an upset win in this one could put them on top.

But the Seahorses haven??t beaten Byron Bay for years and that looks unlikely to change today, with the Rams in scintillating form and running on the same side that flogged Burringbar 11-0.

With strength and goal-scoring ability all over the paddock, the Rams will look to strikers Tom Ruhl and Jordy Campbell to capitalise.

Ballina will need big games from defenders Clint Colless and Dane Seymore to stifle the Rams?? attack. ?z Hot or cold? WILL Burringbar bring their hot side or their cold side? That??s the question for Lennox Head and coach Mark Ambler when the unbeaten Sharks host the unpredictable Bandits.

Newly promoted Burringbar looked to be coming to terms with the rigours of life in the Premier League when they whipped Workers 7-0, but backed it up with a humbling 11-0 loss to premiers Byron Bay, leaving Ambler unsure of what to expect.

The consistency of the Sharks has lifted them to second, helped by few injuries and team changes.

But the Bandits?? fast, attacking game will give the Sharks?? home fans plenty of nervous moments. Workers?? chance LISMORE Workers will be hoping to end their nightmare start to the season with their first win today, when the Redmen host a wounded Maclean at Richards Oval from 3pm.

After losing all five of their games, Workers have plummeted to the bottom of the ladder and desperately need to restore some pride, as well as put points on the board.

And today could provide the opportunity against an out-of-sorts Bobcats side in eighth spot and with niggling injuries to key players.

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