Bandits steal the show

THE most improved team in the Football Far North Coast this season is undoubtedly the Burringbar Bandits.

After battling their way through a tumultuous 2008, the Bandits launched a serious off-season recruitment drive which has transformed the men from beyond the Ranges into one of the competition's most formidable outfits.

“Last year was the worst year we've had in a good while, and while we're still rebuilding from it, we've certainly come a long way,” president Jim Robertson said.

“We struggled for numbers last year but have a few players back now and a few new guys, so the depth is there now.

“We're turning things around this year and have a great bunch of local guys - I don't know where we keep pulling them from in such a small community - but they're travelling well.

“We're winning the majority of our games and the boys seem a lot happier this year.”

With only two red marks against their name after nine hard-fought encounters, the Bandits sit second behind relegated powerhouses Pottsville, a long way from the bottom rungs they occupied just last year.

This week they clash with a side feeling the other side of life - last year's semi-finalists Casino and District, who find themselves one from the foot with only one victory thus far.

Robertson has been impressed with what he's seen from his rejuvenated line-up, and is expecting nothing less than the best from his men again at Colley Park.

“We're playing good soccer and have a terrific defensive record,” he said.

“Pottsville is the only side we've lost to, and we should be far too strong for Casino again.

“Steve Kelly, our new coach, is doing a great job with the guys. He's got fresh ideas, the boys like him and everyone is turning up to training.

“We hope the boys continue their form, turn a few heads at the back end of the season and hold on to second spot come the finals.”

The action kicks off at 5pm.

Meanwhile, leaders Pottsville Beach look to continue their dominance of the division when they do battle with Dunoon and District at Koala Beach Sports Field from 3pm.

Elsewhere, wooden spooners Uki travel to South Lismore, Woodburn hosts Byron Bay, and Goonellabah FC faces Richmond Rovers.

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