Defensive stock takes a dive at Clinton
SOCCER: Clinton's defensive stocks have taken a hit with in-form defender Chris McDougall ruled out for the season with a knee injury.
The defender injured his anterior cruciate ligament 15 minutes into the derby against Central FC on May 19.
The typical recovery period for an ACL injury is nine months, meaning McDougall, who has three CQ Premier League games to his name this season, won't feature in the remainder of Clinton's 2018 campaign.
Assistant coach Dan Horton said "Macca" had been an integral member of Clinton's defence since they switched from a back three to back four earlier this season.
"He was playing centre-back for us because 'Hilly' (Chris Hill) had been away for a month and Macca was just killing it," he said.
Clinton played most of last season using a 3-5-2 formation, although they've been mixing it up this season with extra players in the defensive line.
It's paid dividends with the side only conceding one goal in six games and it hasn't hampered their attack either, with the Grubs banging in 30 goals at an average of five per game.
Three of those goals have come from left-back Josh Noonan.
"He gets forward a fair bit so he's pretty handy in that way," Horton said.
"No one can get past him at the back and when he gets a chance to go forward he's got an attacking mindset."
Horton said the team has worked solidly as a defensive unit, but paid tribute to goalkeeper Dan White who has been in stellar form between the sticks.
"They always say you can't win premierships without a good goalkeeper," he said.
"With 'Whitey' in the team our defence can concentrate on defending and be confident with what they've got behind them.
"He's made some big saves for us this year ... He's really upped his work rate at training this year so he's benefited from being fitter.
"The most impressive thing I find with him is when he gets a hand to something it's a really strong hand and he just seems to make the clutch plays at the moment.
"When we've needed him he's saved some really good scoring opportunities."
Horton said Clinton will be down on troops for the top-of-the-table clash against Frenchville with defensive midfielder Anthony Cobb out due to work, while co-captain Mitch Innocend is doubtful with a knee knock.
Frenchville are coming off a bye and are seven competition points behind Clinton with a game in hand.
"It's a massive opportunity to create a big gap on the table but we know we have to perform for the 90 minutes to take all three points," Horton said.
Clinton (first) play Frenchville (second) at home tomorrow with kick-off at 7pm.
Meanwhile, Central FC will look to chalk back-to-back wins up when they travel to Pilbeam Park to take on the lowly Nerimbera Magpies, also tomorrow at 7pm.
Central sit fifth on the ladder but a win over the Magpies, who lost 12-0 to Clinton last weekend, could see them jump as high as third.