Soccer coach expects more from Goonellabah Hornets

GOONELLABAH will have its final hit-out before taking on Lennox Head in the Tursa Anzac Cup final next Saturday, when the Hornets host Ballina tonight in Far North Coast Football premier league.

The chance of Goonellabah's first silverware since 2011 could prove a distraction, but after the team's 4-1 loss to Lennox in last week's premiership encounter, coach John Eakin has laid down the law.

"We know that wasn't good enough and we want to make up for it against Ballina," Eakin said.

"The boys copped a torrid run at training this week and were reminded in no uncertain terms what is expected of them this year."

Eakin's absence from the team's defence didn't help against the Sharks, and he remains doubtful for tonight with a hamstring twinge.

But with striker Dave Annetts coming back into the line-up to partner Batok Ring up front, the Hornets will start as favourites against a rebuilding Ballina.

The Seahorses suffered a 6-0 loss at the hands of early ladder leader Byron Bay last week, and with key defenders Luke Dixon and Josh Jackson both unavailable, coach Chris Layland will be forced to shuffle his limited line-up.

Former Newcastle players Maddison Gray and Damien Hart will come into the side, but Layland is not putting too much pressure on his players, as he looks at longer term targets.

"Goonellabah will be tough. They have some good new signings, while we are still trying to build a side with new players, some who have been away from the game for a year or two," he said. "It'll take us a little while to settle, but by the second half of the season I think we'll be very competitive."

Kick off is 8pm.

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