Player switch pays off

A REVAMPED backline laid the platform for a spirited Lismore Thistles to clinch a 2-1 away win over Byron Bay in FNC premier league soccer on Saturday.

The Blues defence leaked five goals in their loss to Rovers last week and faced a stern test against the Rams' potent attack.

Thistles coach Paul Parmenter moved Grant Sinclair into a central defensive role with Max Hospers, freeing up Max Toovey to push forward into midfield and the new-look formation did the job.

But the Blues had to do it the hard way after conceding the opening goal to Sam Owens and then having their top scorer Matt Parrish sent off after a clash with Rams defender Bruce Morhaus.

Morhaus was also sent off and with both sides reduced to 10 men, the game opened up.

In a twist of fate for the Parrish brothers, while Matthew was on the sideline his brother Brenton became the hero for Thistles, heading in a corner for the equaliser, before scoring a bizarre winner early in the second half.

A misdirected goal kick from young Rams 'keeper Layton Barton went straight to him and he accepted the gift, slotting the ball into the net.

Thistles' defence then held out the Rams, who hit the woodwork and missed a clear chance to equalise in the final moments of the game.

The result lifts Thistles into joint fourth place with the Rams.

Pottsville lived up to their reputation for being hard to beat on home soil, holding minor premiers Goonellabah to a 1-1 draw.

The Panthers hit the lead when Josh Taylor capitalised on a defensive error.

But Goonellabah responded just minutes later, with captain Matt Dorigo surging forward on a solo run to score.

Both 'keepers had strong games with Ryan Howard making some vital saves for the Panthers and Brad Robertson doing the same for the Hornets to leave the points shared.

“Considering we were under-strength, we're pretty happy with the result,” Panthers player-coach David Lonie said.

Richmond Rovers made it 10 goals in two weeks after another big finish from the major premiers gave them a 5-1 home win over Lismore Workers.

Rovers picked up where they left off after last week's 5-2 win over Thistles, with first-half goals to strikers Matthew Olley and Jonathan See.

A stubborn Workers hit back soon after the restart with an individual goal from Vinicius Leite putting the game back in the balance, until another big finish from Rovers saw them score three times in the final 15 minutes.

Bobby Bugden, Russell Dent and Matthew Olley all found the net, leaving coach Gary Smith full of praise for his side.

“All our players have come up through Rovers ranks and have that fighting spirit,” he said.

Italo Stars have last year's brush with relegation far behind them, moving into third place on the ladder with a 3-0 win over Alstonville on Saturday.

An early penalty from Jake Pratten gave Stars a good start against a lacklustre Villa, before striker Mark Maslen doubled their lead when he capitalised on a defensive mix up.

Casino continued their remarkable revival with an emphatic 5-3 home win over a hapless Ballina giving the Cobras their third win in a row.

Wayne Mortimer led the way for the Cobras, scoring a hat-trick by half-time.

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