One game from glory
TWO of the Clarence Valley's 2nd Division teams will play for a place in the North Coast Football 2nd Division grand final today.
Grafton City and Yamba Breakers finished first and second in the 2nd Division North competition, and are playing off against the top two finishers from the southern half of the competition.
Yamba hosted the undefeated Nambucca Heads last week, with a Brock Ryan brace delivering them a 2-2 draw.
Grafton City played at Sawtell at the same time, returning with a 2-0 win following goals to Ngwyen Hogn and Keith Grant.
City coach Tony Blanch said his team would benefit from the 2-0 aggregate lead and playing in front of a home crowd at Rushforth Park, but he was quick to downplay the risk of overconfident players.
"It does make things a little better for us but we can't afford to go in with a negative mindset," Blanch said.
"They could score two goals in the first 10 minutes and we're back at level pegging again, and they'll have the momentum.
"We just need to make sure the boys are motivated and ready to go."
City will be bolstered by the return of several key players, with Zac Page and Michael Fletcher returning to the starting line-up.
They will still miss gun striker Jimmy Connor until grand final day, but Blanch heaped praise on the available troops.
"Fletch is replacing Michael Green as sweeper but Jimmy won't be back until the night before the grand final," Blanch said.
"Michael (Green) did great for us last week and he'll move across to right back."
Regular goal keeper Luke Chard is still a 50-50 chance to play, with 3rd Division keeper Marty Boyd ready to step up if Chard is ruled out.
Boyd earned a clean sheet in last week's win, giving City an ultra reliable backup plan if Chard's recovery goes awry.
Other 3rd Division players Kye Masters and Lee Stutt may also be called upon as reserves, adding to their 180 minutes of football last week.
"The only thing stopping them last week was cramp," Blanch said.
Grafton can progress with anything better than a 1-0 loss, while Yamba need to win 1-0 to force extra time.
Both games kick off at 3pm.