Thistles eye more glory
LISMORE Thistles' hopes of securing their first minor premiership in almost 20 years will go on the line when they host Italo Stars in Far North Coast premier league soccer today.
Since their glory days of 1991-92, when the Blues won consecutive premiership doubles, their only silverware has been the 1997 Anzac Cup, leaving their new generation of players hungry for success.
A run of six consecutive wins has lifted Thistles into second place.
They trail leaders Rovers by only two points and with two games in hand are well positioned.
“There's a lot of self-belief in the side and we've built up some momentum, but we have a tough run home so we have to beat Stars to set up the chance for ourselves,” Blues coach Paul Parmenter said.
Flanker Brenton Parrish is the only player missing from the Blues' line-up, which will be looking for a repeat of their 2-1 win over Stars in the first round.
Stars have doubts over Rick Austen's ability to recover from injury, which could leave a hole in their defence, but coach Gavin Whitney will send the side out to play an attacking game.
“We have nothing to lose and have to win games if we want an outside chance of the semis, so we won't be sitting back,” he said.
But Thistles' speed on the break gives their attacking players such as Jake Nind and Matt Parrish plenty of chances every game and they will start as firm favourites.
Lismore Workers will look to consolidate their place in the top five when they host Alstonville.
After an impressive 3-1 win over Goonellabah, the Redmen have moved into fifth place and will relish the thought of semi-final football come September.
But they will need a better performance than the last time they met Villa, when they came away from Crawford Park as 2-1 losers.
“They out-enthused us and this is a chance to make up for one of our poorest efforts of the season,” Workers coach Scott Collis said.
Collis will be missing suspended midfielder Cameron Hyde and possibly target man Steve Morrissey, but has plenty of others in good form.
Daune Hore has been rock-solid at the back, Kurt Walker impressive in midfield and newly promoted Martin Kelleher showed his class with a hat-trick on debut against Goonellabah.
Villa are trying to shake off the tag as the lowest scoring side in the league with their new strike combination of Rick Hanna and Daniel Bonesi.
Just a point off the bottom of the ladder, Villa is under pressure to come up with some points or become further embroiled in a relegation dogfight with Casino and Ballina.
“It's now or never for us if we want to pull away from the bottom and keep our faint semi hopes alive,” coach Troy Taylor said.
Pottsville will look to get back on track when they travel to Casino to take a Cobras outfit battling to avoid relegation.
After losing their past two games the Panthers are locked in a battle with Workers for fifth and must take the points to stay in the hunt.
All three games today start at 3pm.
Tomorrow, Ballina hosts Byron Bay at 3pm and Alstonville will be at home against Pottsville in a catch-up game from 2.30pm.