Tom Ruhl, who will be missing from the Byron Bay line-up against Lismore Workers today.
Tom Ruhl, who will be missing from the Byron Bay line-up against Lismore Workers today.

Workers flying under the radar

AFTER their best start to a season in years, Lismore Workers could emerge as premiership contenders if they upset Byron Bay at Richards Oval, Lismore, today (5pm) in Football FNC premier league soccer.

While Richmond Rovers, Goonellabah and Byron Bay have attracted most of the attention, the Redmen have been quietly but successfully flying under the radar.

Wins over Italo Stars and Bangalow in their first two games have given Workers a share of the lead.

Not only are Workers winning games but they are scoring at twice the rate of last season with six goals already.

New flankers Brendan Moore and Norwegian Andreas Lauvaas have each bagged two goals but unfortunately for Workers, Moore’s success at tennis could see him miss not only the game today but the rest of the season.

After performing well at a recent ATP tour event in Queensland, Moore has broken into the top 800 ranked players in the world and looks almost certain to play on the European tennis circuit.

But even if Moore doesn’t start, Workers still pose a serious threat to the Rams, with new coach Scott Collis instilling a sense of belief as well as a disciplined pattern of play.

“We’ve had a positive start and we’re still improving so we’re really looking forward to a chance of upsetting one of the top sides,” Collis said.

Aiding Workers’ cause, the Rams will be missing Tom Ruhl from midfield and key defender Ian Lennie.

While Goonellabah’s impressive start to the season has them installed as early premiership favourites, the Hornets face a possible stumbling block today (3pm) when they host danger side Pottsville.

The new Anzac Cup champions will run on an unchanged line-up and with in-form strikers Dave Annetts and Thiago Priori up front, the Panthers will start as obvious underdogs.

But newly promoted Pottsville showed enough in a competitive performance against premiers Rovers last Saturday to suggest they can trouble the top sides this year.

While the Panthers lost 4-1, it was only 2-1 until late in the game and at times Pottsville out-played the premiers, only to be let down by poor finishing.

With a constructive pattern of play, high fitness levels and player-coach David Lonie pulling the strings from midfield, the Panthers have all the ingredients to spring an upset.

“We’re still on a steep learning curve but we’re definitely on the improve and we’re really looking forward to testing ourselves against one of the top sides,” Lonie said.

“We’re not over-awed by them.”

Italo Stars will be hoping the addition of two new players will add some much-needed spark to their lacklustre start to the season when they host Lismore Thistles today (5pm).

Talented midfielder Jeremy Pollard will have his first start since returning from a two-year suspension incurred from the infamous 2007 grand final while the promising Jordan Nind also gets his first start in defence, ironically against his former club.

After losing their first two games, Stars desperately need a win to restore confidence but Thistles have won two of their three starts and look to be improving in what shapes as a tough, physical encounter.

In other games, Richmond Rovers and Ballina will be at full strength for what looms as a vital match at Saunders Oval, Ballina, while at Bangalow, a well-drilled Alst-onville will be favoured to take the points from a still winless Bangalow.

Both games are set to kick off at 3pm.

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