Drama down to the wire

Lismore Workers young gun Max Harlen has been in outstanding form this year and will be a key player in the finals.
Lismore Workers young gun Max Harlen has been in outstanding form this year and will be a key player in the finals.

After what seems a long journey, we will be left with five teams at the completion of the Round 18 games this weekend.

Yet another intriguing season has kept us guessing who will win and who will not as we approach an exciting end to the point-score rounds with every match vital.

Friday night will attract a big crowd to Weston Park, Goonellabah as the home side are destined to finish third, regardless of the outcome. Their opponents Alstonville however, need a win to remain in contention for an historic first-ever men's premier league semi-final spot.

Villa are equal fifth on points with Lismore Thistles, but hold a two goal-difference advantage that could prove the difference in this enthralling battle. Wily Hornet's coach Mark Ambler is close friends with his Villa counterpart Troy Taylor and the 'master and pupil' analogy will apply to their mutual level of respect and fierce rivalry as football coaches.

Goonellabah were stunned by Casino RSM last week, in a performance that was impeded by some unavoidable disruption to the Hornet's line-up prior to kick-off. The Hornets will be looking to reward their loyal fans with a victory and an expected return of key personnel will dampen any favourable sentiment for a potential final's opponent.

Friday night also sees action at Bill Harris Field, East Lismore, where Rovers can seal another minor Premiership with a victory over Italo Stars. A shock loss to Stars in round one will give more incentive to the lure of winning an important number one position. Mid-field general Luke McWaide was in everything last week and he is one of the players to watch after his stellar inaugural year in town.

The three Saturday games will also ignite passion and tension, with each kicking off at 3pm. Fourth place-bound Byron Bay will work to prevent Lismore Workers from taking out the minor premiership. Byron looked out of sorts last Sunday, but with Jordy Campbell always dangerous up front and speedsters Sam Owen and Tim Knight, they are a team to watch.

Casino and Ballina will thrash it out for the bottom spot when they clash at Colley Park, Casino. Ballina has a two point buffer and a draw will be enough for them, but a win to Casino would see them perform a Houdini act and remain in the top grade in 2013.

The remaining game is at Skennars Head, where the Sharks' mission will be to kill off Thistles' tenuous claim for fifth spot, should Goonellabah defeat Alstonville tomorrow night. Get ready, because this is building to a terrific weekend.

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