Yoogali FC and Yoogali SC will tread a suspension tightrope in Sunday’s derby at Noe Santolin Oval with several star players on each side just one yellow card away from a finals ban.
Coaches Rocky Marando and Sante Donadel both face a tough task at the selection table this week as they decide if they will opt to flirt with form heading into the finals, or risk suspension for next weekend.
More than half of YSC’s first choice team - including Scottish imports Dane Ballard and Derek McKechnie and defensive cornerstone Grant Davidson - are on two yellow cards, and all will attract an automatic ban for the major semi-final against Hanwood FC if they receive cards against YFC.
Donadel told The Area News he was leaning towards erring on the side of caution.
“It’s a tricky one. We don’t want to go out there and lose but we don’t want to put ourselves in a position where we’re at risk for the week after, either,” he said.
“To play Hanwood in the semis you need a full team, not half a team.
“It would have been good if we could play someone else, maybe, or if we could have our full team out there. I doubt very much that we will.
“We’ll probably make a team to suit this week, just to get through this week, because it means nothing if we win and then falter the next week.”
Marando and YFC are in the same boat, only the stakes are higher for them given their final next week will be sudden death, most likely against Leeton United.
But Yoogali FC is also grappling with fresh injury concerns that came out of the win over Yenda on the weekend, which all but stitched up third place on the ladder.
Aaron Sergi is out for at least the next two weeks with a quad injury while Marando ruled himself out, and also said Jordan Lando “hasn’t pulled up well” from his return match after several weeks off.
Fortunately, towering utility Archie Watkins is starting to approach full fitness.
“There’s still a lot to play for,” Marando said.
“We want to put on as good a performance as we can, even without these injured players.
“We’ve been undefeated for a little while and we need to keep that going because it’s do or die from next week. If we win, it means we get a home final, and we’d like to make sure this isn’t our last game for the season at our fortress ... but really, we’ll play anywhere.”
Marando said YFC took plenty out of their last clash with YSC, which finished in a 1-0 loss.
“It was very even and we really took it to them. We only went behind after the red card and the controversy and what have you, but that happens in football,” he said.
“We’ll try and do the same again on Sunday.”
Yoogali SC will welcome back Joe Preece and potentially Hudson Fanani, who was a late withdrawal from Saturday night’s loss to Hanwood FC.
Donadel said his men have reset their focus after the defeat, which effectively handed the minor premiership to HFC on a platter.
“We’re all sweet about it. At least we know what to expect next time and what we have to work on,” he said.