Lambton Jaffas' already depleted midfield stocks suffered a major blow with the loss of Michael Kantarovski for the rest of the season.
The Jaffas defeated Lake Macquarie 1-0 at Macquarie Field in a catch-up game on Sunday to move into fourth spot on the Northern NSW NPL ladder on 34 points with two rounds remaining. They lead Weston on goals and are three points behind leaders Maitland.
However, the important win over the Roosters came at a high price when Kantarovski limped off on the hour after tearing his quadriceps kicking a ball on halfway.
The former Jet was the mainstay of a midfield which had already lost Andrew Pawiak, Bren Hammel and James Pendrigh to season-ending injuries. Defender Nathan Verity is also loss to injury, while striker Pat Brown is finished for the year because of work commitments.
"We will be very young for however much of the season we have left," coach James Pascoe said.
The Jaffas are away to Charlestown on Sunday then home to Edgeworth in the last round. Six teams remain in contention for the top four, and mathematically for the premiership, in the closest top-division NNSW league in memory.