FOR the first time in more than 50 years, Soccer FNC has been forced to replay the Anzac Cup final, after fading light prevented a penalty shoot out being held to decide the winner following a 1-1 draw between Ballina and Goonellabah at Crozier Field yesterday.
The start of the match was delayed half an hour due to the preceding womens final going into extra time and a penalty shoot out and with no lighting available, the two clubs opted for a replay when the final whistle blew.
The anti-climactic finish left the crowd bemused and failed to do justice to a thrilling match that saw both sides create a succession of chances, but only take one apiece.
Goonellabah had several close chances from Matthew Olley and Ben Andrews slide just wide of the posts early on, before Ballina striker Clint Colless scored against the run of play.
The Hornets coughed up possession on half way and with a flat defence Colless pounced on the loose ball and raced away to score a classic break-away goal, despite hitting the post on his first attempt before hitting home the rebound.
Both sides continued to create chances, with Troy Percival and Christian Watson coming close with headers for Ballina, while Olley and Andrews continued to look dangerous for the Hornets.
Goonellabah eventually forced an equaliser 20 minutes into the second half, when Adam Barnes met a corner at the far post and headed across the face of goals for the alert Olley to finish, as a flat-footed Ballina defence looked on.
Play raced from end to end as both sides searched for a winner in the dying stages and Goonellabah looked in trouble when keeper Brett Chaplin ended a brilliant game by being sent off.
Chaplin decked Ballina striker Justin Stockham in a desperate challenge just outside the box, but despite being reduced to ten men, the Hornets survived to full time and a replay at a date yet to be determined. In the lower division Cup finals, Lennox Head won the Open A with a 4-0 victory over Alstonville.Paul Kirkland scored twice, with Mike Raeburn netting the third for Lennox, who look odds on to gain promotion to the premier division next season.
The Open B final went to Goonellabah with a 3-2 win over Kyogle while Richmond Rovers showed their class in the grade 16 final, downing Alstonville 6-0.
The womens Callan McMillan Shield finals saw Lismore Workers defeat Byron Bay in a penalty shoot out for the A Division title after a thrilling 2-2 draw, with Italo Stars winning the B Division, thanks to a 4-2 result over Alstonville.