GOONELLABAH FC and Italo Stars FC kick off round 14 of the men's premier league when they clash at Weston Park Goonellabah at 8pm on Friday night.
Stars are reeling from a huge defeat at the hands of Alstonville last week in the only men's premier game to be played.
To add insult to injury, they have three players missing through suspension so their chance of challenging the strong Hornets side will be like climbing Mount Everest without oxygen.
Goonellabah will not, however, be at full strength with brilliant custodian Brad Robertson serving a one-week suspension. There are three games on Saturday with Casino hosting Rovers at 3pm, Thistles meeting Alstonville at 3pm, and Lennox Head playing coastal neighbours Byron Bay at 5pm.
In the first match, Rovers should prove too classy for Casino who have slipped to the bottom of the ladder and will see every opposition as difficult as they try and claw back lost ground in the relegation fight.
The recent return of Troy Matthews to the Rovers attack after several seasons in the wilderness has been like putting on a favourite pair of slippers. Rovers look slick and dangerous and sit on top of the table.
Cross-town rivals Lismore Thistles will have to combat the expected confidence of the young Alstonville side who trounced Stars on Saturday and Byron Bay on Tuesday. After scoring a remarkabel seven goals in the two games, Ricky Hanna will be a player to watch. The return of Matt Parrish to the Blues' line-up, albeit from the bench, failed to provide the expected impetus to Thistles and Villa could exploit their defence which was way too brittle against Ballina.
Lennox will be hoping that Byron Bay and Villa will have run each other ragged on Tuesday night to take the edge off the Rams. After an initial encouraging start to the season, Lennox are starting to feel the effects of injury and lack of depth.
Byron Bay continues to field teams that look strong and have the ability to crunch any team if they put together a "perfect storm" performance.
The one Sunday game is at Saunders Oval in Ballina when the seasiders host Lismore Workers. The absence of Bill Lattimer will cause a reshuffle in the Redmen's midfield but they should remain undefeated.
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