By STEVE SPINKS
SOCCER Far North Coast general manager Matt Kelso has defended the decision to replay the Anzac cup at a later date after Monday's match between Goonellabah and Ballina finished in a 1-all draw after fading light prevented a penalty shoot-out.
For the first time in more than 50 years the match was not concluded on its traditional day and it left players and supporters bemused.
But Kelso said there was little SFNC could do.
"We share the same feeling as the crowd," Kelso said.
"It was anti-climactic considering it was an entertaining game of football."
The final decision was taken by the SFNC match officials in conjunction with the two coaches of Ballina and Goonellabah.
"With about 20 minutes to go we gave the coaches a couple of alternatives because we were aware there could be trouble," Kelso said.
"We (coaches and officials) came to an agreement to go directly to a penalty shootout, but the coaches changed their minds and said they'd prefer a replay which was fair enough."
Normally there is 20 minutes of extra time before a penalty shootout.
A myriad of circumstances conspired to cause the replay. Firstly, there was a serious injury in one of the lower grades and then the women's final went to a penalty shootout. It delayed the start by half-an-hour.
But perhaps the biggest influence was Lismore City Council's decision in February to keep Oakes Oval closed to local sporting groups until after the City versus Country rugby league match on May 6.
The council was asked to keep the venue closed by the National Rugby League.
Oakes has been the traditional venue for the final for many years and it meant SFNC was forced to shift the venue to Crozier Field which has no floodlights.
Crozier Field was the only option because it is the only other venue in Lismore with four changerooms, which allows both men's and women's teams to use the facilities at the same time.
n At a meeting last night SFNC decided the replay would be played on either May 11 or May 18 at Oakes Oval (depending on ground availability).
SFNCgeneral manager Matt Kelso said admission to the final would be free.