Barton triple helps Rams down Bluedogs
SHARP-SHOOTING Layton Barton has underlined his reputation as a man to watch as his Byron Bay team once again showed its class during the latest Football Far North Coast action.
The Rams continued their barnstorming start to the season with a 7-2 demolition of Bangalow in the Tursa Employment and Training Anzac Cup.
Bangalow had the home advantage for Sunday's local derby and after marking their return to the top flight with a classy 5-0 win over Lennox Head in the cup last week, they were expected to give the Rams a tough game.
But the Bluedogs had no answer to the Rams potent attack, led by strikers Barton and Herick Schulaman and fed by midfielders Sebastian Bell and Tom Inoue.
Bell racked up two goals within the first 20 minutes, the first a crisp left foot drive, before claiming his second from the spot after a soft penalty.
Schulaman scored the Rams third goal, before Bluedogs defender Dan Schneider was needlessly sent off for dissent just before the break.
Despite being reduced to 10 men for the second half, Bangalow opened their account with a penalty from Taha Belaazziz.
From there, though, it was all Byron as the Rams showed just how potent a team they could be this season.
Barton scored a quick fire hat-trick before an energetic Schulaman netted his side's seventh, as the Rams scored almost at will.
Bangalow striker Batok Ring netted a spectacular long range goal late in the game, but his impact on the game was reduced after not coming on until half-time.
After consecutive washouts, Lismore Thistles finally got on the field for their first game and came away with a spirited 3-2 away win over Alstonville.
Villa led a tight contest 1-0 at the break thanks to a penalty from Troy Cook, before the Blues drew level when one of their four new signings from Goonellabah, Toby Barton, found the net from a corner.
A counter-attack goal from Sam Kerry allowed Villa to regain the lead, but in a finely balanced game, Thistles again drew level when another former Hornet Matt Armstrong, used his pace to run onto a through ball and score.
With time running out, it was Armstrong who found the winner for the Blues, tapping in a shot that could only be parried by Villa keeper Peter Weingarth.
The third match also resulted in a 3-2 scoreline, with Casino edging out Goonellabah on the Hornets home turf, thanks to a late goal from captain Dean Casey.
Dylan Clarke and Troy Pillar also found the net for the Cobras, while Lloyd Howard and Dave Annetts scored for the Hornets, but they paid the price for missing too many chances.