The Italo Star players crowd the goal as Aaron Gray takes a shot during the match at the Italo club in Lismore.
The Italo Star players crowd the goal as Aaron Gray takes a shot during the match at the Italo club in Lismore.

Patched-up Hornets face big test

WITH two key defenders missing, Goonellabah Hornets will have to resort to an untried backline for their vital home clash with a rampant Lismore Workers in Football FNC premier league tomorrow.

For the past two seasons central defender Daniel Morrow has been the major premiers' unsung hero at the back and his absence will be compounded by the loss of wide

defender and set-piece specialist Cerys Hawkins.

Coming in to fill their large shoes will be Daniel Rose and Sam Eyers, with Rose moving into the middle to partner James Tomlinson for the first time.

How they combine will be critical to the Hornets' hopes of stifling Workers' free-flowing attack, led by canny strikers Wayne Mortimer and Vinicius Leite.

The Redmen remain undefeated after sweeping into the Anzac Cup final and kicking off their premiership campaign with the biggest score in decades, an 11-1 rout of Casino.

With the disruptions to the Hornets' backline, even coach Mark Ambler concedes that the in-form Workers will start favourites.

"They're a very good team, with some quality players and are scoring plenty of goals. While we've won our first two games we're still a work in progress, so they deserve to be favoured," he said.

Despite their brilliant start to the season, cohesion is still the theme for Workers' coach Scott Collis.

"Goonellabah are the major premiers and on home soil, so this is a major test for us to show we're gelling as a team," he said.

"We'll have to string passes together, trust in each other and be patient with the ball. If we start giving possession away cheaply they have the players to punish us."

Two of those players will be experienced Hornets striker Dave

Annetts and his pacy young partner Andrew Lewis, who has already bagged three goals from his first two starts.

Many neutral observers see the game as a contest between the reigning champions and the leading contender to take their title. The match is scheduled to kick off at 3pm but that will be dependent on a field inspection, with wet grounds threatening to disrupt the remainder of the round.

Ballina's home clash with Lismore Thistles tonight looks

unlikely, with the pitch being checked this morning, while two other coastal grounds are in doubt for tomorrow.

The Skenners Head field is not looking good for Lennox Head to host Richmond Rovers at 3pm, while more hope is held for Byron Bay's field to be open for the Rams clash with Alstonville at 5pm.

One match is set down for Sunday, with Casino and Italo Stars both looking for their first win when they meet on the Cobras' home turf at 2.30pm.

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