Bay claims first finals spot
BYRON Bay has become the first club from Football FNC to progress to the quarter-finals of the Solo Cup, after a well constructed 3-1 win over Lismore Workers in their third-round clash at Oakes Oval on Saturday.
The Rams had to recover from a disastrous start after conceding a penalty to Batok Ring and having Tom Ruhl and Sam Owens forced off with injuries in the opening 15 minutes.
But a gritty Rams outfit hit back with a through ball from Nolan Pierce releasing striker Jordy Campbell who beat two defenders before smashing the ball into the net to equalise by half-time.
Campbell was a constant menace to the Workers’ defence and gave the Rams the lead with his second goal – again using his pace and strength on the ball to beat defenders before unleashing a clean finish.
A third goal from substitute Yantra Whitling wrapped up a solid win for Byron, who will now contest their quarter-final in either Newcastle or Coffs Harbour, as they chase their share of the $10,000 Solo Cup purse.
Cobras crash back
Minor premiers Goonellabah have brought high-flying Casino back to earth with a thud after a 4-0 home win over the Cobras on Saturday in the FNC premier league.
After three wins on the trot, Casino were hoping they had the form to upset the Hornets but were outclassed by a well-drilled Goonellabah outfit that opened the scoring after just three minutes with a deflected free kick from Cerys Hawkins.
The Cobras managed to hold Goonellabah at bay until the second half, when Dave Annetts extended their lead, before two far-post finishes from substitute Chris Matthews wrapped up an emphatic win.
“They played smarter, kept the ball better and held their shape well but our guys never gave up and kept trying right to the end," Casino coach Scott Creighton said.
Hornets midfielder Achim Christ put in a strong game in his last appearance before returning to Germany, but with another quality German waiting in the wings for his international clearance, Goonellabah’s depth remains strong.
The result lifts the Hornets into second place on the premiership ladder, with games in hand on competition pacesetter Richmond Rovers.
Rovers continued their dominant form, scoring five goals for the third week in a row in their 5-0 away win over Italo Stars.
The major premiers were frustrated by Stars’ ability to defend in numbers during a scoreless first half but cut loose after the break with Ian McGregor opening their account with a stinging long-range shot.
Soon after, Stars were reduced to 10 men when Josh Pascoe was sent off for a hand ball in the box, allowing Russell Dent to score Rovers’ second goal from the penalty spot.
A rampant Rovers went on with the job with the league’s top scorer Matthew Olley scoring his ninth goal in nine games, before McGregor completed his hat-trick with a free kick and a penalty.
A hungry Alstonville ended a threegame losing streak with a 2-0 away win over last-placed Ballina.
Villa played an attacking 3-4-3 formation and it paid off for them with first-half goals from Joel Perkins and Josh Cowan and while Ballina lifted for the second half, they could not find the net.
Perkins’ pace and determination made him one of Villa’s best, along with central defenders Richard Russell and Kurt Stevens.
Best for the seasiders were defenders Liam and Ryan Seymour, along with hard-working striker Matt Jeffery, but their inability to score is still their biggest problem and they remain the lowest-scoring side in the league.
The remaining match between Thistles and Pottsville was postponed after Thistles’ field was washed out.