Birmingham winds back the clock

By JIM CHALLENOR THIRTY years after leaving the Far North Coast hockey competition, Warren Birmingham marked his return against his old club Northern Star with an ageless performance for Casuarina in the teams' 2-all draw on Saturday.

Players braved the icy, wet conditions at Hepburn Park, Goonellabah, on Saturday for the fifth round of the J H Williams Premier League.

Allstars, Waratahs and East Lismore remain the only unbeaten sides.

Controlling the Casuarina midfield, Birmingham, a former Australian captain, gained great support from Ian Lomas, Matt Woosnam and goalkeeper Cameron Barnes.

Adam Warbutson was at his inspirational best, driving Casuarina forward.

Scott Fitzpatrick gave constructive support on the right with Ben Wightley (3m fg, 40m fg) scoring once in each half to give them the lead both times.

But Star were up to the challenge. Goalkeeper Aaron Head, Ryan McGuinesss and Ryan Campbell again gave fine performances.

Thomas Vantaggiato, Brad Hassett and Bob Barrett were very efficient, with good support from Daryl Hughes.

Star again failed to gain opportunities in front of goals as Phil Hancock and Mark Albertini created plenty of pressure in attack to force numerous penalty corners.

But Star showed this is an area of improvement with first Albertini (5m pc) and then Vantaggiato (39m pc) converting. Ballina wins easily IN the next match, Ballina adapted better to the conditions to methodically grind down Redbacks' defence and win 5-0.

Jake Baldry orchestrated plenty of quality play with support from Sam Davis and Shaun Arundell.

Baldry's performance underpinned Ballina's opportunities with Mitchell Harley (7m fg), Tony Meldrum (17m fg) and Davis (27m pc) scoring a steady procession of first-half goals.

Ballina also dominated the second half with goals to Baldry (38m fg) and Wayne Porter (66m pc). Good defence from goalkeeper Josh Hanley, Brett Crawford and Josh Garrett kept Redbacks at bay. Mullum struggles

ALSTONVILLE recorded a convincing 4-0 win over Mullumbimby, whose players struggled to cope with the conditions.

Craig Lasserre (27m fg) was the lone scorer in the first half, but coach Grahame Baxter was more content in the second as Alstonville settled into the game plan.

Dwayne White (42m fg), Casey Lees (59m fg) and Lachlan McKendrick (62m fg) all scored as Alstonville played a consistent, structured pattern.

McKendrick, Lees, Daniel Lidbetter and Jade Taylor were the standouts for Alstonville in the midfield, while up front Joe Beohm, Troy Cooper and White caused Mullum problems.

In defence, goal keeper Todd Seymour, Luke Emerson and Graham Bielefeld closed out Mullum's meagre efforts.

Mitch Nowlan was outstanding in defence for Mullum saving his side from a more dismal outcome.

Goalkeeper Gavin Arthurs, Adam Gadowski and Abel East also did well, while in attack Daniel Cook, Chris Nowlan and Baden East tried to make the most of their chances.

Yesterday, East Lismore paid a high price for their 2-0 win over a spirited Kingscliff.

Goalkeper Nathan Hughes was having his normal inspiring match in goals before an accident just on half-time left him with a badly dislocated or broken and disfigured right ankle.

While Hughes saved the goal the injury left the match suspended for 40 minutes as ambulance staff worked to stabilise the injury.

Hughes' season is probably over as surgeons prepared to operate to piece his ankle back together.

Jason Rodda filled in as 'keeper and maintained a clean sheet even though he hasn't played keeper for eight years. Matt Currie, Boyd Hughes and Paul Flanagan also did well as Easts had to work hard to handle the unconventional Kingscliff.

Daniel Hughes (11m pc) and Dave Willis (40m fg) scored and had good games with excellent support from Chris Clark, Matt Rodda, David Flanagan and Simon Mackney.

Kingscliff goalkeeper Robert Barnes had to work overtime. At Hunt Park, Labrador, Waratahs beat Labrador 4-3;

Burleigh continued on their barnstorming way by defeating United 3-1; and Allstars pulled out all stops to overcome Mudgeeraba 1-0.

Coraki had the bye.

In a nutshell JH WILLIAMS PREMIER HOCKEY LEAGUE MEN Northern Star 2 drew with Casurina 2 Ballina 5 d Redbacks 0 Alstonville 4 d Mullumbimby 0 East Lismore 2 d Kingscliff 0 Waratahs 4 d Labrador 3 Burleigh 3 d United Vipers 1 Allstars 1 d Mudgeeraba 0 Bye: Coraki Competition points: Pool 1: Waratahs 13, East Lismore 10, Mullumbimby 6, Alstonville 5, Labrador 3 (game in hand), Kingscliff 2, Coraki 0 (game in hand).

Pool 2: Allstars 15, Ballina 10, Casuarina 10, Burleigh 9, Northern Star 5, Mudgeeraba 4, United 4, Redbacks 0.

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