Bluedogs battle to gutsy draw

STALEMATE: Thistles and Bangalow players scramble to outleap each other in the final minutes of their nil-all draw at Bangalow on Saturday.
STALEMATE: Thistles and Bangalow players scramble to outleap each other in the final minutes of their nil-all draw at Bangalow on Saturday. STEVE MACKNEY

A TEN-MAN Bangalow defied the odds to hold their bogey side Lismore Thistles to a nil-all draw in Far North Coast premier league soccer.

Bangalow went into their home game missing six regulars and when defender Campbell Smith was sent off after just 13 minutes, their prospects looked grim.

But despite their best efforts, Thistles could not break down the Bluedogs' well-organised defence marshalled by Dustin Rudgley.

Midfielders Elliot Everfield and Damien Keevers also played leading roles, leaving coach Joel Rudgley delighted.

"It showed the sort of character we're building in the team; everyone worked hard for each other," he said.

The result ended a remarkable absence of draws this season, being the first after more than 50 games.

It also kept the Bluedogs on track for the semi-finals but is a major blow to the Blues' hopes of retaining the minor premiership, leaving them eight points behind Byron Bay.

Goonellabah finally broke through for its first win of the season with a spirited 2-1 home victory over Ballina at Weston Park.

The Hornets had to do it the hard way after conceding an early goal to Ballina striker Matt Jeffery.

But wily striker Dave Annetts equalised from a free kick, before teenage flanker Will MacCalman scored the winner to the delight of the home crowd.

Strong games from Brock Spencer, Jared Morrow and Daniel Ferguson contributed to the win, which could provide the spark needed for the Hornets to avoid relegation.

The win lifts the Hornets off the foot of the ladder, just ahead of Tintenbar-East Ballina on goal difference.

The only downside was the late send-off of Annetts, who will now miss at least one game.

Undefeated league leaders Byron Bay continue to sweep all before them witha 4-0 home win over Lennox Head increasing their lead.

Goals from James Tomlinson, Michael Kelly, Connor Cannon and Lachlan Dwyer delivered yet another win for the rampant Rams.

Both sides finished with 10 men after second-half red cards to Conan Griffiths (Lennox Head) and Dwyer.

Workers had to survive a scare from Alstonville before coming away with a hard-earned 2-1 home win.

Villa had the better of the first half and led at the break after a poor goal kick from Workers custodian Simon Cleaver gifted a goal to Liam Giles.

But the Redmen showed their experience and class by upping their intensity after the break, with goals from Jay Keevers and Kurt Walker.

Yesterday, Richmond Rovers held their place in the top three with a 3-1 home win over Tintenbar-East Ballina.

The league's top scorer Jonathan See scored twice along with Andrew Gray, with Stephen Clifford getting a late consolation goal for Tintenbar.



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