Hornets, Rams quest for quarters
THE Northern NSW Solo Cup comes to Lismore today, with local soccer clubs Goonellabah and Byron Bay looking to qualify for the quarter-finals of the $10,000 knockout in a double-header at Weston Park, Goonellabah.
The Solo Cup is the first competition open to clubs from all seven NNSW zones from Newcastle to the Queensland border.
It attracted more than 50 nominations.
Five clubs from the powerful Newcastle Premier League have already moved through to the quarter-finals, with the Hornets and Rams having the chance to take two of the remaining three spots.
Goonellabah will take on former FFNC premier league club Maclean at 1pm, then the Bay faces Woolgoolga from 3pm.
The return of the popularMaclean Bobcats after they were forced to move into the Coffs Harbour league two years agowill attract much interest.
In 1999 Maclean became the first non-Lismore club to win the FNC minor premiership and then did it again in 2001, when they also became the first to take out the premiership double.
Striker Grant Nielson was a big part of that line-up and these days coaches the side – with similar success.
Last year they won the Coffs league and this season they are undefeated, with key players such as midfielders Kevin Crofton and Travis Armstrong and striker Fraser Robinson in good form.
The Bobcats line-up also contains two players who spent the past two years with Goonellabah, Braden Hirst and Jarrad Doyle, who have returned to their original club.
With Goonellabah also undefeated and on top of the FNC league, it looms as a mouth-watering clash.
“We’re expecting a very tough match against a quality side, but we’re proud to be representing the region as well as our club and we’ll give it our all,” Hornets coach Mark Ambler said.
Byron Bay will give some of their younger prospects a chance to shine when they take on Woolgoolga, with Anthony Sanderson coming into the defence and Maz White getting a start in the centre of midfield.
The Bay has the capacity to score plenty of goals, but how their backline holds together without central defender Ian Lennie could be the key to them progressing to the quarter-finals.