Hornets’ Anzac Cup hopes hit by injury and suspension
GOONELLABAH'S hopes of a surprise appearance in the Tursa Anzac Cup soccer final have taken a nosedive with the Hornets left badly depleted for their semi-final against cup holders Lismore Thistles tonight.
Thistles have the home advantage for the 7pm kick-off and will run on a full-strength side, while the Hornets could be forced to start with just one playeron the bench.
With only 17 of a possible 20 players registered in their Anzac Cup squad, the Hornets have been caught short by injury and suspension.
They have also had just three days to recover from their 2-1 loss to Workers on Tuesday night, when central midfielder Kurt Stephens was sent off.
His absence will be compounded by the loss of his midfield partner Kaiden Powell, with Jack Lyon and Brock Spencer forming the new midfield combination.
In-form striker Dave Annetts is also unavailable, with Daniel Ferguson likely to fill his shoes.
"We'll be forced to restructure the side and it's going to be a real test of our depth," Hornets coach John Eakin said.
"We'll certainly be under-dogs. Thistles are the form side so we'll try to get numbers behind the ball and catch them on the counter."
After three straight wins in their pool games, Thistles look likely to keep alive their hopes of a third consecutive Anzac Cup title by reaching the final.
"Knowing they're depleted, we're expecting them to play a defensive shape which we'll look to break down," coach Rod Lees said.
"There's no secret to our play. We'll look to use the speed of our overlapping backs Jeremy Sullivan and Zac Wilson, it'll be all about possession and quick ball movement."
With a rock solid back four led by Max Hospers and a three-pronged strike force of Matt Armstrong, Matt Bale and Nathan McCann, the well-drilled Blues will start hot favourites.
The second semi-final will be played on Sunday and features surprise sides Lennox Head and newly promoted Casino.
Lennox have the home advantage for the 4.30pm kick-off.