Rams go to top after 4-2 win
By MARK ROBINSON DEFENDING premiers Byron Bay have taken the place of Lennox Head on top of the Football FNC Premier League soccer ladder after a hard-earned 4-2 home win over the Sharks.
Four of the five Round 8 games were played on Thursday night.
The Rams lived up to their reputation as fast starters, taking just six passes to score the opening goal.
The ball was passed wide to Joel Bradford, who surged down the flank before finding the head of Jordy Campbell at the far post with an accurate cross.
Strikers Paul Kirkland and Troy Percival worked hard to get the Sharks back into the game and after 20 minutes Percival went to ground in the box, allowing Kirkland to equalise with the dot shot.
The Rams regained the lead when Tom Ruhl beat his marker before smashing a 30m drive into the roof of the net.
But the Sharks responded almost immediately when a through ball unleashed Kirkland, who drilled his second goal to leave the sides square at the break.
The deadlock was broken mid-way through the second half when Campbell pounced after Sharks goalkeeper Tye McDonald was forced to parry away a shot.
With Lennox pushing forward in search of an equaliser, the Rams capitalised with a quick counter-attack late in the game for the fourth goal, with an incisive ball from Bruce Morhaus releasing Jonathan Pierce behind the Sharks defence for a clean finish.
Morhaus provided leadership with his strong presence in midfield, while hard-working striker Jordy Campbell had his best game since joining the Rams and combined well with Pierce.
Best for the Sharks were strikers Kirkland and Percival, along with clever midfielder Mario Tinning and McDonald in goals.
Lennox Head coach Mark Ambler was left with mixed feelings.
"I'm not disappointed in the way we played at all," he said. "I thought we had the better of the second half, but the bounce of the ball is just not going our way at the moment."
The win maintained the Rams' unbeaten record against Lennox and lifts them to the top of the ladder for the first time this season.
But it was also the final appearances for Tom Ruhl and Joel Bradford, who are leaving to work at the snowfields. 'Diplomatic' draw
THE first Premier League clash between Burringbar and Bangalow ended in a diplomatic 2-all draw after a depleted but determined Bluedogs twice came from behind on the Bandits' home turf.
Burringbar took an early lead thanks to an acutely angled shot from Josh Chapman, but Bangalow bounced back when a Joel Rudgley ball put Sebastian Bell into enough space to net the equaliser.
The Bandits regained the lead just before half-time with a well-taken goal from Simon Hurcombe, who beat his defender to hit a shot off the far post into the net.
The second half was marred by a nasty head clash between the Bluedogs' Ricky Small and the Bandits' Dean Charman, who both had to be replaced.
Burringbar missed Charman's guidance in defence, while the Bluedogs looked more dangerous after bringing on robust striker Aaryn Fresche.
A corner gave Bangalow the opportunity to snatch a point from the game, with the ensuing goal-mouth scramble allowing Marchello Piabianco to volley the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
The draw leaves the two newly-promoted sides still uncomfortably close to the relegation zone, but keeps the Bluedogs four points ahead and safe for now. Hornets' fifth straight
GOONELLABAH has surged into second place on the ladder with a comfortable 4-0 home win over the hapless Lismore Workers.
Ben Andrews continued his rich vein of form with two goals and also set up one of Peter O'Neill's two goals. It's the fifth win on the trot for the in-form Hornets, with coach Brendan Logan declaring: "The boys' attitude is great at the moment and if we continue in this frame of mind we can win the premiership."
Workers have now lost all eight games and to make matters worse had defender Jeremy Wraight sent off towards the end. He will miss the clash with Byron Bay next week.
That match marks the half-way point of the season and with the Redmen likely to still be on zero points, only a spectacular turnaround could save the club from relegation for the first time. Late goal decides it
A SINGLE goal in the shadows of full-time from striker Wayne Mortimer was enough for Italo Stars to escape with a scrappy 1-0 home win over Ballina.
The match never rose to any great heights and seemed destined to fizzle out into a scoreless draw, until Stars midfielder Jamie Austen surged through the heart of the Ballina defence and laid off an inviting pass for the unmarked Mortimer to slot a clinical finish past Ballina goalkeeper Lucas Wagland.
Ballina had their share of chances.
The remaining game from the round between Maclean and Richmond Rovers set down for today has been washed out. In a nutshell
Premier League: Byron Bay 4 d Lennox Head 2, Burringbar 2 drew with Bangalow 2, Goonellabah 4 d Workers 0, Italo Stars 1 d Ballina 0.
Points: Byron Bay 17, Goonellabah 15, Italo Stars 15, Lennox Head 15, Richmond Rovers 14, Maclean 11, Ballina 10, Bangalow 8, Burringbar 4, Workers 0.
Premier reserve: Byron Bay 1 d Lennox Head 0, Burringbar 3 d Bangalow 0, Goonellabah 1 d Workers 0, Ballina 2 drew with Italo Stars 2.