ALSTONVILLE has a golden opportunity to progress to the fourth round of the FFA Cup when they host a battered and bruised Goonellabah tonight.
The Hornets will be backing up after a 3-1 loss to Lennox Head in the Anzac Cup final just days ago and have numerous players in doubt with injury, including player-coach John Eakin.
With several players facing last-minute fitness tests, Eakin will delay naming his side until the last minute, but new signings in former Thistles players Jason Woollett and Damien Parker look set to start, along with 15-year-old prospect Jack Watson.
"It'll be tough for us. Villa is a quality side and use their wide overlapping players well, so we'll need to be focused from the start," Eakin said.
In contrast, Villa will be fresh after a week off and with a full-strength side on home soil, will start as favourites. Another former Thistles player in Jacob Arthur will start as striker for Villa, supported by Rick Hanna and Josh Cole on the flanks in an attacking 4-3-3 format.
"While we haven't played Goonellabah yet, I've seen them in action and they are a strong side with some very good individual players, so we'll need to be on our game to win it," said Villa coach Mark Ambler.
The winner will emerge as the top side from the Far North Coast and go on to meet the top Coffs Harbour club in the next round on May 16 for a berth in the NNSW semi finals.
A win there would raise the prospect of eventually meeting an A League club in the later rounds.
Kick off is 6.30pm.
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