Bay stakes a claim
By MARK ROBINSON
BYRON Bay has staked its claim as a genuine premiership contender in Soccer Far North Coast's Tursa Premier League, after returning from the tough road trip to Maclean with a 2-1 win over the Bobcats.
The Rams trailed early, conceding a goal to Maclean midfielder Aaron Swanson, but the pace of their game and constant pressure around the Maclean box proved too much for the Bobcats to contain, leading to two penalties from Aaron Richter-Steers.
Six games without defeat has now given the Rams a share of the lead with Goonellabah, with the chance to take the outright lead tomorrow night when they play Casino in a catch-up game.
"We've been the sleeping giants of the league, but we're ready to make our move now," said an exuberant Rams coach Peter Ware.
Byron captain Shaun Packham led by example with a superb game in central defence, with the pace of players such as Paul Bird and John Bradbury causing plenty of problems for the Bobcats defence and triggering the two penalties.
AFTER leading the league for most of the season, Ballina has stumbled to its second loss on the trot, going down 2-0 to a fired-up Lismore Workers at Saunders Oval.
The clash was played at a frantic pace, with numerous cards dished out as both sides showed plenty of intensity and commitment.
The Redmen took the initiative early in the second half, when a penalty gave Lucas MacPherson the chance to break the remarkable record of Ballina 'keeper Wade Spencer.
Spencer had saved the past seven dot shots he has faced, but MacPherson gave him no chance.
Goal poacher John Wraight gave Workers their second goal, capitalising on a goalmouth scramble to wrap up a crucial win, giving the Redmen a share of fourth place with Ballina and Stars.
Workers' best were Joel Gosper, who struck up a useful combination with Anthony Alvos in midfield and Lucas MacPherson, who had an engrossing duel with Ballina's Clint Colless.
"Gosper and MacPherson really came of age and we played as well as when we won last year's grand final," said elated Workers coach Kevin Keevers.
GOONELLABAH has maintained its place on top of the ladder thanks to a comfortable 3-0 away win over relegation candidate Casino.
Goals from Peter O'Neill, Matthew Olley and Brett Morgan kept the Hornets premiership campaign on track, but left the Cobras still just a point off the foot of the ladder.
Premier League pointscore
Goonellabah 23, Byron Bay 23, Richmond Rovers 21, Lismore Workers 20, Ballina 20, Italo Stars 20, Maclean 12, Thistles 10, Casino 7, Bangalow 6.
PREMIER DIVISION: Richmond Rovers 2 Def Italo Stars 1, Byron Bay 2 Def Maclean 1, Goonellabah 3 Def Casino 0, Lismore Workers 2 Def Ballina 0, Lismore Thistles 3 Def Bangalow 0.
PREMIER RESERVE: Richmond Rovers 2 Def Italo Stars 0, Thistles 1 Def Bangalow 0, Goonellabah 2 Def Casino 1, Byron Bay 2 Def Maclean 0, Workers 0 Drew Ballina 0.
FIRST DIVISION: South Lismore 4 Def Nimbin Headers 2.
FIRST RESERVE: South Lismore 3 Def Nimbin Headers 1.
SECOND DIVISION: Italo Stars 10 Def Kingscliff 1, Goonellabah 6 Def Casino 0, Ballina 0 Drew Workers 0.
THIRD DIVISION: Alstonville 3 Def Goonellabah 2, Thistles 4 Def South Lismore 0.
FOURTH DIVISION: Goonellabah 2 Def Alstonville 1, Workers 3 Def Rovers 0.
OVER 35: Tintenbar 3 Def Goonellabah 0, Byron Bay 4 Def Nimbin Headers 0. Ballina 3 Def Lennox Head 1.