Do or die for Thistles
LISMORE Thistles face a gruelling weekend double-header that could make or break their Football FNC premier league soccer semi-final campaign, with the Blues taking on cross-town rivals Workers today, before hosting Alstonville tomorrow.
Thistles share fourth place with Byron Bay, but with five clubs vying for the final two semi spots, the Blues need a six-point weekend to keep the other contenders at bay.
One of their main threats is Workers, who are just a point behind Thistles and have the home advantage for the 5pm kick-off today.
“It’s a massive weekend for us, six points would be a huge bonus, but if we don’t do well we could easily slide backwards,” Thistles coach Ken MacPherson said.
The Blues will be at full strength except for Max Toovey, who will sit out the clash with Workers due to suspension, but will return to face Alstonville tomorrow.
After a morale-boosting win over Italo Stars last weekend, the Blues’ young squad will start with plenty of confidence and look to deliver as much ball as possible to in-form striker Matt Parrish and his lively partner Jake Nind.
Parrish scored both goals last week, lifting his tally for the season to nine and making him the second highest scorer in the league behind the runaway leader, Goonellabah’s Dave Annetts.
Workers still have a heavy injury toll, with Josh Law, Kurt Brewer-Charles and Cory Loft sidelined and Daune Hoare in doubt.
The return of their two most experienced players, Anthony Alvos and Steve Morrissey, played a big part in ending their slump with a 3-2 win over Byron Bay last week.
They will again be pivotal to Workers’ hopes, particularly Alvos, whose battle of wits with Thistles’ Darren Beardow in midfield loomsas an engrossing sub-plot.
The two seasoned campaigners shared the Player of the Year award last season and both are more than capable of providing the match-winning spark their side will be looking for.
Workers will use an attacking 4-4-3 formation, with Morrissey, Andreas Lauvaas and Jason Wilson up front and, after a hard-fought 2-all draw in the first round, another close result is expected.
Thistles will have the home advantage for their clash with Alstonville tomorrow at 3pm, with Villa backing up after a game against Stars last night and needing a win to keep their faint semi-final hopes alive.
Need a jolt
A DEPLETED Ballina will be looking for something special to jolt their semi-final campaign into life when the Seahorses host third-placed Pottsville today at 5pm.
Ballina’s injury list includes Liam Seymour, James Tomlinson and Todd Jones, with Adam Izzard and Matt Jones coming into the side.
“It’s still a bit of a makeshift line-up; we haven’t been able to run on the same side from one week to the next all season,” Seahorses coach Rod Troughton said.
While Ballina has been erratic, consistency has been one of Pottsville’s strengths, leaving the Panthers determined to bounce back after their winning streak ended with a 4-0 loss to Goonellabah.
While the Panthers will be missing player-coach David Lonie, dangerous striker Josh Boag is back from suspension and they present a huge hurdle to Ballina’s semi-final aspirations.
Richmond Rovers will be hoping to keep their rapidly fading minor premiership hopes alive with an away win over Bangalow today at 3pm.
With Bangalow on the foot of the ladder it looks an easy game on paper for the premiers, but the Bluedogs have shown in recent weeks that their battle to stave off relegation is alive and well.
Undefeated league leader Goonellabah should be relatively untroubled in taking the points from an out-of-form Byron Bay tomorrow when they meet at Weston Park from 2.30pm.
The Hornets’ full-strength line-up looks likely to extend the Rams’ unhappy sequence of five games without a win and with player numbers and morale dwindling, Byron’s days in the top five look numbered.