Fire turns to an English re­cruit PNG in­ter­na­tional also comes into side

Sunshine Coast Daily - - LOCALCLASSIFIEDS -

FOOTBALL: The Sun­shine Coast Fire ex­pects the re­turn of English re­cruit Stephen Hind­march will plug the gap­ing de­fen­sive hole left by injured vet­eran Ryan Smith when the mis­fir­ing com­pe­ti­tion heavy­weight clashes at home to­mor­row with the Capricorn Cougars.

In an­other much-needed boost, the match will mark the Fire de­but of Pa­pua New Guinea in­ter­na­tional Cyril Muta, the younger brother of Coast mid­fielder David Muta, and French­man Ni­co­las Bechar re­turns to the wing af­ter a longterm an­kle in­jury.

Muta’s in­clu­sion in the side will help off­set the con­tin­u­ing ab­sence of Fire cap­tain Tyson Holmes.

The sea­soned mid­fielder is tri­alling with Perth Glory.

Hind­march, a for­mer youth player with English League One club Carlisle United, joined the Fire af­ter the sea­son started.

Af­ter play­ing in the Fire’s 1-1 draw with the Bulls in April, he has not been picked since.

He has been play­ing for Ca­bool­ture in the McDon­ald’s Premier League and the rea­son for the short­ness of his ini­tial as­so­ci­a­tion with the Fire is un­clear, given the club speaks so highly of him.

Stand-in Coast skip­per Greig Henslee is a Hind­march fan.

Henslee said the young English­man, who played with Hawkes Bay United in New Zealand’s na­tional league last sea­son, was a very strong tack­ler who kept things sim­ple.

“He was ex­cel­lent in that game (against the Bulls),” he said.

“He came in and trained with us for about three or four weeks be­fore that game, so we know what he’s about, and it’s a mas­sive plus for us this sea­son be­ing able to re­tain his ser­vices.”

The sec­ond-placed Fire, the reign­ing two-time premier and cham­pion, has fallen 13 points be­hind fierce ri­val Bris­bane af­ter de­feats in two of its past three games.

Henslee and Coast coach Richard Hudson have al­ready de­clared the side’s pre­mier­ship tilt over.

How­ever, Henslee is con­fi­dent the Fire will fin­ish the sea­son strongly once at full strength or near full strength.

The fifth-placed Cougars have won only four games this sea­son.

One of their seven de­feats was a 3-2 away loss to the Coast in round nine.

Henslee warned that Capricorn was “po­tent” go­ing for­ward, with Cougars striker San­der Water­land’s 13 goals the third high­est tally in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Capricorn’s 32 goals this sea­son is two more than the Fire’s to­tal, though the for­mer has con­ceded 20 more goals.

PHOTO: WAR­REN LYNAM

THAT’S THE GOAL: The Fire’s Greig Henslee is con­fi­dent his team will fin­ish the sea­son strongly once near full strength.

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