Print 

Metro’s hopes of winning the Division One title rest on their encounter today against league-leaders Beachside away at Sandown Park.


Metro currently lie third on the ladder, five points adrift of Beachside and one point behind second-placed Nelson Eastern Suburbs, who also have a tough game today at home against fourth-ranked University at North Warrane.


Metro will have Danny Cowen available again, but Jayden Wiggins is a doubtful starter because of injury.


Beachside will include Patrick Dunne and Ben Davis in their squad after both were unavailable last weekend.


“We are expecting a very difficult game as Metro are a strong team,” said Beachside player-coach, Nathan Robinson.


“They have had some good results away from North Chigwell, including a win against Hobart United, so we will not be underestimating them.”


Nelson hope to welcome back Craig Stockdale from injury, but there is the problem of possible work commitments. If he can play, it will help them in a tricky match against University.


Matt Fone also returns after recovering from an ankle injury, but central defender Cameron Rush is out because of a corked thigh.


Young midfielder Patrick Lenck has decided the appeal of a surfing holiday in Bali is greater than that of trudging through mud at North Warrane and so is unavailable for the next three weeks.


Defender Troy Hoppitt is likely to keep his place at fullback, while Nick Roberts will be on the bench and on standby to replace Stockdale if he cannot play.


Striker Jordan Brighella is also likely to retain his place in the attack, while Richard Flood and Oliver Burden are on the bench.


“This will be another tough match against an improving University team,” said Nelson coach, Michael Roach. “We need a win and three points to stay in the race for the league.


“University will feel the same way, of course, with Beachside already five points clear.


“We have some key players out with injury, work, and also holidays, though we have a couple of good players back in, too.


“I’m sure Sir Alex Ferguson doesn’t have to put up with players taking off on a surfing holiday mid-season.”


The other game today is the bottom-of-the-table match between second-last Southern FC and bottom-side DOSA.


On Sunday, Hobart United entertain the FFT Under-15s at Pontville.


In the Forestry Tasmania Northern Premier League today, the focus of attention will be Valley Road, where second-ranked Devonport City host leaders and reigning champions Northern Rangers.


This promises to be a tight contest with a draw a distinct possibility.


Third-placed Ulverstone travel to Montello to take on sixth-placed Burnie United.


“This is an important game for both clubs as we currently sit in third spot on the ladder and need a win to keep in touch with the top two clubs, Devonport and Northern Rangers,” said Ulverstone coach, Kim Rigby.


“Burnie, after a promising pre-season and start to the regular roster, are now needing a win to get their season back on track after four losses in a row.


“We have injury concerns over two of our regulars, but if they pull up all right we will go with the same starting eleven from last week’s win over Launceston City.


“Against Launceston City, we gave a debut off the bench to 15-year-old Connor Meaney for the last 15-20 minutes and he performed well and did not look out of place at this level.”


In other games today, seventh-placed Somerset welcome fifth-placed Riverside Olympic to Cardigan Street, and second-last Launceston City entertain fourth-placed Prospect Knights at Mitsubishi Park.