Lennox Rovers in vital match
LENNOX Head and Richmond Rovers might be sitting in second and fourth place on Football FNC's Tursa Premier League ladder, but both will be desperate to return to their winning ways today when the two square off at Nielson Park at 5pm. Lennox has lost their last two games to Byron Bay and Maclean and a third loss on the trot could spell trouble for their semi-final hopes, while Rovers have been hot and cold, suffering a 6-2 whipping from Maclean in their last start, after a 4-0 victory over minor premiers Goonellabah the week before. Both sides will be forced to shuffle their line-ups, with Lennox Head losing Troy Percival and John Newton to suspension and having defender Sean Kearns unavailable. Rovers also have two suspended in Andrew Gray and Luke McAnelly, with Ian Gregory and Scott Johnson also unavailable. But such is the enormous depth in Rovers' squad that coach Tim Sheridan can replace them with quality players such as Brett Lane, Chris Matthews, Adam Gray and himself. Sheridan is expected to play at sweeper, where his confrontation with Sharks striker Paul Kirkland could be pivotal. Kirkland has been a revelation this season, scoring 12 goals from his 12 games to be the leading scorer in the League. Deadly from set plays and just as dangerous in open play, the powerfully built Kirkland will punish Rovers if they give him room to move, but Sheridan is sure to pay him close attention, in what will be one of many engrossing personal duels in a match vital to both sides. n Reigning minor premiers Goonellabah are resigned to losing their title this year, but even making the top five could become unlikely for the Hornets if they fail to beat Lismore Workers at Richards Oval today at 3pm. With Workers sharing fifth place with Italo Stars, three points ahead of Goonellabah, a loss for the Hornets would spell disaster, according to coach Renato Cheli. "Workers are one of the sides we need to knock out of the top five to make room for ourselves, so this is almost do-or-die time for us," Cheli said. Cheli has a full-strength side with the exception of skillful defender Stephen Foster, while Workers have keeper Alex Pratt suspended and defender Bryan Keevers out for the rest of the season with a bad knee injury. Pratt will be replaced by experienced keeper Chris Eggersdorf, who will be making his first appearance in the top ranks for many years but has been in good form in reserves. Workers coach Pedro Bezera has called on his players to show their passion in a game just as vital to their semi-final hopes. n RELEGATION-THREATENED sides Casino and Lismore Thistles face tough assignments tonight when they take on top-five sides Maclean and Italo Stars in a double-header at Oakes Oval, Lismore. The Cobras meet in-form Maclean at 5pm and will need a huge reversal in form to upset a Bobcats line-up that has risen to third place on the ladder after four straight wins. Thistles also meet a side hitting top form in Italo Stars at 7pm, with Stars recording a 2-0 win over the previously undefeated Byron Bay and a 5-2 drubbing of Workers in their last two starts to break into the top five for the first time. Ballina v Byron Bay: Postponed due to closure of grounds at Ballina. Lennox Head and Tintenbar grounds also are closed.