Thistles, Rovers battle for place in soccer major semi-final
EAST Lismore derbies between Richmond Rovers and Lismore Thistles are always spirited affairs, but tonight's clash in Far North Coast premier league football will carry extra significance for both sides.
While the winner will book a place in the major semi against Workers, and with it a second chance in the finals, the loser will find themselves in the sudden death elimination semi against a dangerous Alstonville.
Rovers have the home advantage and with a full strength side that has racked up 10 consecutive wins, will start as favourites.
"We'll be coming out with all guns blazing" promised Rovers coach Brian Bugden.
"At this time of year it's all about having the right mental attitude and that's something we've worked on".
Their three man attack has plenty of variety, with the finishing skills of Golden Boot winner Jonathan See, the physical presence of Adam Gray and the blistering pace of Andrew Casagrande.
Playmaker Russell Dent has also been a key element to their success and his midfield duel with another widely respected veteran of the game in Thistles' Darren Beardow will be a highlight.
Blues coach Rod Lees will be without two suspended players in striker Jake Nind and defender Matt Cramp, but is quietly confident after their last start win over minor premiers Byron Bay.
"The boys have been training well and the mood is positive, we know Rovers are a good side, but we're certainly not intimidated by them" Lees said.
"We'll be looking to maintain possession and play the ball through midfield and not resort to long balls".
Nathan McCann will fill Nind's shoes up front, with support from flankers Matt Armstrong and Ryan Parmenter.
The Blues will have to play for a win, with a draw good enough for Rovers to hang onto third place, setting the stage for another intriguing contest between the traditional rivals.