Strikers women eyeing Leonard Plate, men plot Tolland upset

KEY MAN: Cootamundra defender Nicolas Ashe will take on a pivotal role in the absence of player-coach Brent Farnsworth when the men's Strikers lock horns with Tolland at Rawlings Park this Sunday: Picture: Lachlan Grey
KEY MAN: Cootamundra defender Nicolas Ashe will take on a pivotal role in the absence of player-coach Brent Farnsworth when the men's Strikers lock horns with Tolland at Rawlings Park this Sunday: Picture: Lachlan Grey

Strikers coach Mick Simons has his sights set on Cootamundra’s maiden first-grade silverware as the side prepares for a key clash with Wagga United. 

The women’s side travel alongside the men’s teams to Rawlings Park for Sunday’s fixtures and will look to use their flexible roster to outlast United and build towards their Leonard Plate finals campaign.

Simons admitted he had readjusted his initial target to play Cup finals but said the three upcoming games would hone his side’s finishing ability and prepare them for a shot at the Plate.

“My attitude all year has been to make the top four but this goal was out of our reach this season.

“Now we turn our focus on the finals in three weeks with lead up games against Wagga United, Tolland and Young.

“Two of those sides are plate contenders while Tolland are far-and-away the best side in the competition.

“We need to build even more on our team work and possession with extra focus on our squads ability to play numerous positions.

“I know we have improved so much from the start of the season but I would like a few solid weeks with our whole squad to ensure we are capable of challenging for the Plate Grand Final.”

Meanwhile, Strikers Pascoe Cup skipper Adam McPhail believes his side must fire on all cylinders if they are to knock off third-placed Tolland on Sunday. 

“The Wolves have really hit their straps and just from looking through their roster, they’ve got a few gun players in that weren’t there at the start of the year,” he said.

“Lachlan Bushby and Bai Fahnbullehh have been looking good so they’re certainly a side in form.”

Despite having scored less and conceded more goals than Cootamundra, Tolland’s ability to close out tight games has seen them notch 11 wins from 16 fixtures.

It’s a killer instinct the Strikers have lacked this season and McPhail knows his side must find their hunger again if they’re to keep their finals dream alive.

“Those draws have been killing us all year,” he said.

“We’re a team that’s scrapped pretty well all year but we need to be able to hold on to those leads.

“When a side scores three goals like we did in our last game against Wagga United, that side should be comfortably winning games.

Sunday’s challenge will be further compounded by the absence of star defender Brent Farnsworth (knee injury) but McPhail believes the side will rally in the face of adversity

“We’ll miss him at the back but Nick Ashe is a bloke who can lift and take ownership of that space,” he said.

“Usually he’s pretty quiet but I think he’ll come into his own this weekend.”