Minor title is major success for Thistles
LISMORE Thistles are celebrating after claiming their first minor premiership in 21 years.
The Blues wrapped up the Football FNC premier league title two weeks early with a 1-0 away win over Lennox Head on Saturday.
The club's sixth minor premiership in its 53 year history will go into the trophy cabinet next to the Tursa Employment and Training Anzac Cup they won in April, giving them the chance to break new ground by becoming the first Thistles side to win the treble.
While the undefeated Blues went into the game as hot favourites, the Sharks belied their lowly position on the ladder with spirited resistance.
Thistles still managed to control most of the play, setting up several clear-cut chances in the first half that went unrewarded.
Their search for an elusive winning goal continued until midway through the second half, when they finally broke the deadlock with their most important goal of the year.
Ryan Parmenter capped a fine game with some good lead-up play down the flank, before crossing to Matt Armstrong.
Armstrong beat his marker and struck a low, angled shot home.
The club's roller-coaster season has included the recent death of much-loved coach Paul Parmenter.
"Lennox gave us a tough game and in the end it was a test of our resolve and our patience," Thistles coach Craig Kennedy said.
"The boys didn't panic.
"It's fitting reward for all the hard work they've put in.
"It's been a difficult and emotional seven weeks with the passing of our coach 'Bomba' Parmenter but the boys have shown great spirit to stick together and get the job done for him.
"Our little general Darren Beardow had another great game and deserves special credit for his contribution over many years to help us get where we are."
Byron Bay tightened their grip on second place with a thumping 9-2 home win over Goonellabah.
Rams striker Sebastian Bell led the onslaught with five goals.
Bruce Morhaus, James Tomlinson, Tom Inoue and Darren O'Brian all joined Bell on a congested score-sheet in an ominous performance from the Rams two weeks out from the semis.
Hornets' goals came from Sean Dronfield and Kaiden Powell.
Lismore Workers also put in a polished performance and look likely to finish in third place after a 5-1 away win over Italo Stars.
Young guns Max Harlan and Matt Keevers scored two goals each while Kurt Walker also scored before Shaun McDonald scored a consolation goal late.
Richmond Rovers are building momentum at the right time with a 3-0 home win over Bangalow consolidating their place in the top five.
Jonathan See scored all three of Rovers' goals.
Alstonville kept their semi-final hopes alive with an impressive 4-0 away win over Casino.
The result leaves Alstonville just two points adrift of fifth-placed Rovers.