Lights ... action!
THE floodlights were hardly needed as nine goals in two pulsating matches lit up Oakes Oval on Saturday night, with Goonellabah edging out Lismore Workers 3-2 and Richmond Rovers coming back to snatch a 2-all draw with Byron Bay in a Far North Coast Tursa Premier League soccer double-header.
Byron Bay and Rovers kicked off the action with the Rams dominating the first half, racing to a 2-0 lead by the break thanks to two goals from Tom Ruhl.
Their lead could have been greater if not for two narrow off-side calls and that cost the Rams in the second half, with Rovers coming out a different side after the break and clawing their way back.
Arron Smee put a delicate deflection on a goal-mouth cross to pull one goal back for Rovers and despite plenty of pressure from Byron the Rams failed to increase their lead, allowing Tim Casagrande to complete Rovers' escape act in the dying minutes.
With his options shut down, Casagrande launched a speculative lob from 35 metres that sent Byron goalkeeper Kai Connell back-pedalling to no avail, as it sailed over his head and into the net for 2-all.
Goonellabah and Workers both led at different stages of their fast-paced clash, the Redmen opening the scoring with a close-range finish from Steve Morrissey.
Uncharacteristic defensive errors from the Hornets and some enterprising play from Workers often had Goonellabah on the back foot until midway through the second half, when deadly striker Peter O'Neil turned the game around in two minutes.
The mercurial finisher hit a sweet volley that dipped over the 'keeper into the far corner to level the scores, before cutting in from the opposite side of the field with an incisive burst and clean finish.
He was denied his hat-trick by injury, limping off soon after to the concern of the bench.
But Workers were not to be denied something for their efforts and equalised when John Wraight raced on to a Lucas MacPherson ball to score from close range.
Just as a draw looked likely, Goonellabah striker Matthew Olley, who had endured a frustrating game, did what he does best and poached a goal for a winner from nothing, heading in a long ball from an acute angle while under enormous pressure.