Pressure is on Rovers, Stars
LISMORE rivals Richmond Rovers and Italo Stars find themselves under enormous pressure going into their clash at Stars Field today at 3pm in Football FNC premier league soccer.
With a quarter of the season gone, both are well behind where they would like to be, setting up a high-stakes encounter.
After losing two of their five games, defending premiers Rovers already trail leader Goonellabah by six competition points in their quest for an unprecedented fourth consecutive premiership double and must start stringing wins together soon to keep the dream alive.
Stars, perennial semi-finalists, have had an even worse start with just one point to show from five games, but will be hoping the re-signing of versatile defender Matt Pratten will help spark a recovery.
“Matt will start off the bench in his first game back and we’ve been improving, so if we can match Rovers physically I think we’re ready for our first win,” coach Rick Austen said.
Much will depend on strikers Bill Latimer and Josh Sharp taking their chances against a Rovers defence that was almost impenetrable last year, but has often looked shaky this season.
Rovers will run out a similar line-up to the side that just managed to beat last-placed Bangalow 1-0 last Sunday, with the exception of striker Matthew Olley, who will be out for at least six weeks with a broken rib.
With several players carrying niggling injuries, the wounded premiers face a real test of character against a desperate Stars.