There’s an injury crisis brewing at O’Connor Park and Cootamundra’s football talent are dropping like flies.
The Strikers have toiled hard this year, climbing as high as third on the Pascoe Cup ladder midway through the season before slipping down to their current rank of seventh.
Four spots down is a notable slide and Cootamundra skipper Adam McPhail knows exactly why they’re in such a predicament.
“Aaron Kemp, Joshua Purtell, Nick Ashe, Bugsy (Brent Farnsworth), Eu Jern Tan and Max Holder – all those players are all out at the moment,” he said.
“We’ve just had a crazy run of injuries and we’ve had so many blokes go down.”
It’s a toll more dramatic than a Neymar dive and McPhail is struggling to keep a first grade side on the paddock.
“We’ve played the past few games with four, five blokes from second grade as well, so it’s been a tough year for them too,” he added.
Incredibly, the Strikers are still clinging to a realistic finals dream with 20 competition points to their name and can sneak into the top six should results fall their way in the coming weeks.
Here’s the formula – it’s win-or-bust from here on out and Cootamundra must beat fourth-placed Young and traditional rivals Junee in the final fortnight to have any hope of qualifying.
The Strikers will also have to rely on either Leeton (25 points) losing their final two games of the year to Henwood Park and Tumut or Wagga United (24 points) earning no more than one competition point against Lake Albert and Young in their upcoming games.
Should Leeton even secure one point during their final fortnight, they’ll likely be safe due to their superior goal difference (+5).
The same goes for United (+10) who boast an 18-goal advantage over Cootamundra (-8) and can lock down a finals berth with a victory against either the Sharks or Lions.
McPhail knows it’s a long shot and has set his sights on a six-point finish to the year.
“Hopefully we can get Nick and Purty back for the next game. Two wins would a nice way to go,” he said.
This weekend the Strikers travel to Young, while the women head to Temora and Wagga.