MAIN MAN: John Eakin’s experience will be key to Goonellabah’s chance to avoid relegation in their match with Tintenbar East Ballina tonight.
MAIN MAN: John Eakin’s experience will be key to Goonellabah’s chance to avoid relegation in their match with Tintenbar East Ballina tonight. The Northern Star

Last one to the goal posts gets the wooden spoon

THE battle to avoid relegation will take centre stage tonight, when Tintenbar East Ballina hosts Goonellabah in FFNC's premier league.

The two sides share the bottom rung of the ladder with just one win each, setting up a virtual relegation derby.

Despite their lowly positions, both coaches are confident their sides are on the improve and can take a major step towards premier league survival with a win.

"It's been a tough year since being promoted, but the boys are settling into the pace of the game now, and have played well over the last three weeks," Tintenbar coach Dwayne Smith said.

The 'Bar will be boosted by the return of several key players from injury, but suspended skipper Jake O'Grady will be missed at the back. Up front, top scorer Steven Clifford will be their main threat, supported by Daniel Bostock and Declan Keirle.

Hornets coach Gavin Whitney has also endured a difficult season through player losses, injuries and a lack of depth, but feels things are about to turn.

"For the first time this year, we'll be able to field a full-strength side with some depth on the bench" he said.

"Things are starting to fall into place; we've got experience in John Eakin at the back and Dave Annetts in midfield, along with some good young players up front in Daniel Ferguson, Lloyd Howard and Andrew Lewis".

While Tintenbar won their first encounter 3-1, Goonellabah is much-improved since then and a fiercely contested game is assured.

Kick-off is 8pm.


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