Oxley Vale Attunga defender Cameron Skewes suffered a season-ending broken leg in a 4-1 loss to North Companions at Scully Park.
Skewes broke his leg challenging a Northies player for the ball at about the midway point of the second half.
Mushies were down either “3-1 or 2-1” at the time of the incident, their coach Tim Coates said.
Coates did not attribute the loss to the injury. But he said it cast a pall over his players after they had started the second half with a positive attitude.
He admitted to personally being “a bit shook up” by the severity of the injury, which he said was “just bad luck”.
His players “just dropped their head” after the incident, he said, adding: “There’s your mate on a stretcher … [It] looked like a very bad break.”
“I don’t think that helped with the mindset for the last part of the game.”
Coates has requested that Northern Inland Football check the eligibility of Northies player Dylan Langenbaker, who played in Saturday’s match after being sent off in a reserve-grade clash the previous round.
Coates, past president of NIF, said a send-off resulted in a minimum one-match suspension.
“I wrote the competition rules,” he said, adding that the suggestion Langenbaker was eligible to play first grade because he was sent off in reserve grade “made a mockery of the whole thing”.
But Northies coach Gavin Thompson said NIF gave the club the all clear to play Langenbaker. “We got a sanction notice from them [NIF] last Monday or Tuesday and it clearly states on there that his suspension ends at the conclusion of the reserve-grade fixture [on Saturday] of the Northern Inland Premier League,” he said, adding that the club double checked the ruling with NIF.
NIF general manager Julia Farina said she was “awaiting advice from Northern NSW Football on the matter” and was unable to comment further until Monday.
The loss means OVA dropped from second to third on the ladder, with Demon Knights leapfrogging them following a 3-2 home win over North Armidale.
Tamworth FC remains undefeated after a 4-1 home defeat of South Armidale.