Goonellabah, Stars move to share of lead

GOONELLABAH and Italo Stars joined Ballina on top of a congested ladder in Far North Coast Tursa Premier League soccer after three games on Thursday night.

The Hornets repeated their first-round 1-all draw against Richmond Rovers, this time at Weston Park.

Stars returned from Casino with a 3-1 win over the Cobras and Workers had a 4-1 home win over Lismore rivals Thistles.

Goonellabah and Rovers produced another tight encounter, with the only goals coming from free kicks in the second half.

Tim Casagrande deflected a Rovers set play into the net five minutes after the break, then Matthew Olley equalised with a header from a 40-metre Will Marwick free kick with 20 minutes to go.

Both coaches said a draw was a fair result.

Rovers' Craig Hamshaw praised markers Scott Crouch and Mitchell Flower for keeping Goon-ellabah strikers Ben Andrews and Matthew Olley quiet and Ian McGregor for his efforts up front.

Best for the Hornets were industrious midfielders Will Marwick and Jack Williamson.

Workers coach Kevin Keevers had to give his side a half-time pep talk before they got the better of a determined Thistles at Richards Oval.

The Redmen took the initiative with an early goal from Steve Morrissey, but the Blues drew level by half-time, thanks to a curling shot from their top scorer, 17-year-old Luke Edwards.

Keevers' rev-up work-ed, with second-half goals to John Wraight, Steve Morrissey (penalty) and Joel Gosper sealing an important win.

It kept the Redmen in fifth place, three points off the pace.

In Stars' 3-1 away win over Casino, Jeremy Pollard opened the scoring with a spectacular individual goal.

He broke from half-way and beat the sweeper before hitting a clinical finish for a 1-0 half-time lead.

The Cobras couldn't hit back and are now left deep in relegation territory.

Sleeping giant

A COUPLE of washed-out games and a couple of draws have left Byron Bay languishing in the bottom half of the ladder, but the Rams remain the sleeping giant of the Premier League.

The next four days will provide the chance the Rams have been waiting for to wake from their slumber, with the chance to rocket up the ladder if they can win their catch-up game against Maclean at Byron Bay today from 3pm, then down Bangalow on Tuesday night.

The Rams' two draws have come in their past two games against minor premiers Rovers and major premiers Workers. In both cases the Bay may have been unlucky not to take full points.

On such form they go into the clash with Maclean today as favourites, with the Clarence side winning just one of its seven games.

Young prospect Tom Ruhl scored both goals in the Rams' 2-all draw with Rovers last week and will again start up front with the experienced Bruce Morhaus.

Todd Knaus will make his return for the Bay and is sure to come off the bench some time in the second half, but will probably play more of a role on Tuesday night against Bangalow.

Maclean has Aaron Swanson back from injury on the bench.

Only two other games will be played in the next few days, with Maclean and Byron Bay having to back up.

The Bobcats will host Ballina on Monday from 3pm, while the Rams travel to Bangalow for their local derby against the Bluedogs on Tuesday from 8pm.

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