Rams close to first soccer minor premiership since 2006
BYRON BAY will be one game away from cementing its first minor premiership since 2006 if the Rams win their local derby against Bangalow tonight in Far North Coast premier league soccer.
The Bay has the home advantage but will be far from full strength, with several key players missing.
Captain Shaun Packham has a hamstring strain, while top scorer Connor Cannon is back in his homeland of Ireland for three weeks.
With Nick Baker suspended and Sam McIntyre and Dakota Dixon King also unavailable, coach Damon Bell will again have to shuffle his line-up.
"We're lacking a few defenders. James Packham will have to move into central defence with Yantra Whittling and Lucas O'Donnell coming into the wide positions," Bell said.
"We haven't been at our best lately, but with the semis just a few weeks away now, it's time to ramp up our intensity."
The Rams still have midfield strength with the combination of Michael Kelly and Barry Woods, while strikers James Tomlinson and Kazi Tsukamato form a dangerous pairing up front.
Bangalow should be close to full strength and are undefeated in their past six starts as they look to wrap up fifth place.
Captain-coach Joel Rudgley will use an attacking 4-3-3 shape and steer the side from central midfield.
"There's a good energy in the side at the moment andI think Byron can be vulner-able early in games before they settle, so we'll be looking for a big start," Rudgley said.
"We're also motivated by the need to stay ahead of Villa to make sure we take fifth spot."
Kick-off is 8pm.