Goonellabah win Anzac Cup

Byron Bay goalkeeper Kai Connell saves a shot on goal from Goonellabah in the Tursa Anzac Cup final at Oakes Oval, Lismore, last night.
Byron Bay goalkeeper Kai Connell saves a shot on goal from Goonellabah in the Tursa Anzac Cup final at Oakes Oval, Lismore, last night. MARC STAPELBERG

GOONELLABAH has claimed the first title of Football FNC’s 2010 season following a titanic struggle against Byron Bay that went all the way to a nerve-jangling penalty shoot out in the Tursa Anzac Cup final at Oakes Oval last night.

The Hornets had to recover from the worst possible start when a Rams free kick in the second minute allowed Tom Ruhl to curl a ball to the far post where Tim Knight powered his shot into the back of the net.

Despite the early setback Goonellabah quickly settled into their rhythm and began to press for an equaliser with strikers Dave Annetts and Thiago Priori troubling the Rams defence.

Annetts and Rams central defender Ian Lennie waged an engrossing battle for dominance, but eventually Annetts conjured up a freakish goal to draw the Hornets level shortly before half-time.

A break and cross from Rhys Osborne allowed Annetts to get under the ball with a flick on header that lobbed over Rams ’keeper Kai Connell into the net at the far post.

The goal lifted the Hornets and while the Rams were creating some chances on the counter Goonellabah went to the break as the better side.

After losing Sam Owens to injury in the first half, early in the second Byron also lost key defender Ian Lennie with a shoulder injury and without his organisation at the back the Hornets began to capitalise, mounting wave after wave of attack to create a steady succession of chances.

But a combination of some brilliant saves by Connell, scrambling last-line defence from the Rams and wayward finishing from the Hornets left the scoreline unchanged after 90 minutes.

Twenty minutes of extra time also failed to break the deadlock, triggering the penalty shootout when a save from Goonellabah ’keeper Brad Robertson and a shot over the crossbar from Byron, fittingly left Dave Annetts lining up the winner.

Taking his time, Annetts coolly slotted the ball into the corner of the net to clinch the Hornets’ first Anzac Cup title since 2006 and just the third in the club’s history.

While they did squander many chances, Goonellabah created far more than Byron and earned the win with their ability to keep their shape, move the ball quickly and the sheer commitment of their players.

In the lower division Anzac Cup finals, Lennox Head had a well constructed 3-0 win over Burringbar in the Open A, Goonellabah also won the Open B division with a 3-2 result over Pottsville and Lismore Workers outgunned Lismore Thistles 4-1 to win the Grade 16 title.

In the Women’s Callan McMillan Shield finals, Alstonville reversed last years result with a 3-2 win over Richmond Rovers in the A division, while Bangalow won the B division, downing Casino 3-2.