Last time Uki and Burringbar met in the Sage Cup, the Bandits got the better of their rivals 2-1.
Last time Uki and Burringbar met in the Sage Cup, the Bandits got the better of their rivals 2-1. Blainey Woodham

Pythons to play without Underwood

UKI will enter this weekend’s local derby (5pm) away to Burringbar without star striker Kyle Underwood who yesterday succumbed to a foot injury and joins Dave Stratton on the absentee list.

The Pythons were hopeful of stealing the high-flying Bandits’ thunder but without the forward, who coach Joe Scholl believed to be one of the fastest in Football Far North Coast, they may find goals a little harder to come by than in recent weeks.

However, Scholl has seen a change in his troops during the last three rounds and said they were capable of getting one back in their favourite grudge match and closing the five-point gap.

“Every time we play them, they get the bounce of the ball but we are a much better side than when we played last time we clashed and I see Uki beating them this time,” he said.

“When we used to play them, we sat back on our heels, but we’ve moved away from that. We’re a different side and they won’t know what hit them.

“We have to play smart, attacking football like we have the last four weeks because we’ve been creating plenty of scoring opportunities and will need to again if we want the points.”

Burringbar, too, are without one of their best, with influential skipper Mick Williams out with a hamstring injury.

And while Uki wish to stay in contact with Burringbar, the Bandits’ concern is with leap-frogging Casino back into top spot. Club president Jim Roberston said the three points this week were essential for the Bandits’ premiership chances.

“It’s important to get points against Uki because, unfortunately, we have two byes in three weeks which hurts, particularly as we have Casino and South Lismore after,” he said.

“Uki are the improvers of the comp by the sounds of it, and are all gunning for us in these derbies, but our boys are playing great football and are confident of getting the win.”

Meanwhile in Sunday’s premier league action, the Tweed’s most successful side, the in-form Pottsville Panthers, head south to tackle Lismore Workers, weather permitting at 5pm.

The Panthers have clawed their way up the table to sixth with a string of impressive performances and captain-coach David Lonie believes his troops have the ability to send a statement to the rest of the competition by toppling their fourth-placed hosts.

“They have a good squad but we’ll attack them from the start and aim to play the good possession football from the back that has seen us come away with the points in recent weeks,” he said.

“A lot of the boys are playing really good football for the full 90 minutes and the best part is we have moulded as a team.”

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