Byron Bay wants revenge in Anzac Cup final
By MARK ROBINSON
THE first trophy of the Football Far North Coast 2007 season will be proudly held aloft tonight by either cup holders Goonellabah or defending premiers Byron Bay when the teams square off in the Tursa Anzac Cup soccer final.
The game will be played at Oakes Oval, Lismore, starting at 6.45pm.
The two clubs also contested the final last year, when Goonellabah won a thriller 4-3, leaving Byron Bay keen for revenge.
"Of course it's in the back of our players' minds; they're used to winning and any loss hurts, so we'll certainly be out to make up for it," Rams coach Peter Ware said.
Most of the Byron Bay squad were part of the side that won the Anzac Cup in 2003 and 2004, and they gained a psychological advantage over the Hornets on Saturday with a 1-0 away win in their opening premiership clash.
The only change to the Rams' winning line-up will be the addition of Scottish striker Steve Kirkpatrick for Jordy Campbell, who was not registered in the Rams' cup squad. Byron Bay will start slight favourites.
Goonellabah have lost Daniel Morrow to an ankle injury, but have Adam Barnes back to slot into a wide midfield position, inducing coach Brendan Logan to re-shape the side.
Striker Ben Andrews will be dropped back into central midfield to fill the shoes of Clint Willoughby, who will remain in central defence with John Eakin, where he had such a positive impact last Saturday.
Andrews' combination with Brett Morgan in the centre of the paddock will be vital to the Hornets' hopes and their battle with the Rams duo of Bruce Morhaus and Todd Knaus will be a fascinating duel that could determine the result.
While midfield dominance will be important, Logan is also looking to use the full width of Oakes Oval, which is one of the largest fields around.
"We'll be looking to change our play in the attacking third and give more support to our wide players to try to exploit any weakness in their deep defence," Logan said.
With both sides intent on playing an attacking game, another seven-goal thriller like last year is possible. Rams coach Peter Ware said: "Goonellabah is the hardest, best structured side we've played so far.
"Both teams are capable of playing good football and winning it, but it will still boil down to who wants it most on the night."
Schedule for Anzac Cup and Callan McMillan Shield finals today: At Oakes Oval: 6.45pm Premier Division, Goonellabah v Byron Bay; 4.30pm Open A Division, Alstonville v Tweed Heads; 2.15pm Callan McMillan A, Byron Bay v Lennox Head; 12 noon Open B Division, Richmond Rovers v Kyogle.
At Crozier Field: 3pm Callan McMillan B, Kyogle v Italo Stars; 1.30pm Callan McMillan 16s, Alstonville v Goonellabah; 12 noon Anzac Cup Grade 16, Lennox Head v Richmond Rovers.