Rams will give it everything
BYRON Bay's lingering hopes of finishing in the top three will be at stake when the Rams meet in-form Goonellabah on the Hornets' home turf tomorrow in Football FNC prem-ier league soccer.
Byron ended a four-game slump with a 7-1 mauling of Casino last week to keep their top-three hopes alive.
But they now face the acid test against a Hornets outfit that stung minor premiers Richmond Rovers with a 4-2 win in their last start, lifting them into second place.
"The boys always lift against Goonellabah and the big win over Casino has brought the confidence back, so with a place in the top three at stake we'll be giving it everything," Rams coach Peter Ware said.
"We know it will be tough. They're well prepared and on a winning streak so we're the underdogs, but we don't mind that tag."
With Shaun Packham and Tom Ruhl still unavailable, Ware will run on the same line-up that downed Casino, led by classy striker Jordy Campbell, who scored four of their seven goals.
With the experienced Bruce Morhaus returning to the Rams midfield to combine with Victor Pires and Lachlan Dewar, they should create plenty of chances for dual golden boot winner Campbell.
Goonellabah also have a striker in top form in Batok Ring, who was devastating against Rovers last week, scoring twice to take his season tally to 10.
His blistering pace and ability to shrug off defenders will test the Rams' backline, marshalled by Aaron Richter-Steers and Layton Barton.
Barton looks likely to be given the job of marking Ring and the terrier-like defender is sure to relish the challenge against the club he left to pursue a path as a field player rather than a goalkeeper.
His brother Toby remains with Goonellabah and their battle for family bragging rights will be intriguing.
Goonellabah coach Mark Ambler has Andrew Lewis and Rhys Osborn returning to his squad and hinted at "a few changes" but remains quietly confident.
"They have Jordy back up front so we expect them to play their normal pattern, but the key for us, as always, will be maintaining our team game," Ambler said.
While the well-drilled Hornets will start as favourites, the Rams' unpredictable attacking flair makes them a difficult side to contain for the full 90 minutes.
Kick-off is 3pm.
With Lismore Thistles and Alstonville sharing fifth place, both sides' semi-finals hopes will be on the line this weekend.
Thistles have the easier game, hosting the erratic Italo Stars tonight at 8pm, while Villa face the daunting prospect of taking on undefeated league leaders Lismore Workers on their home turf tomorrow at 3pm.
While Workers will start as favourites, the Redmen cannot afford any complacency against the in-form Villa.
After just their third loss of the season to Goonellabah last week, Rovers will be looking to bounce back with a big away win over lowly Ballina tomorrow at 5pm.
Rovers have slipped to third but will start as hot favourites to take the points, keeping alive their hopes of consecutive minor prem-ierships.
One game will be played on Sunday, with relegation-threatened Casino in desperate need of a home win over Lennox Head when they meet at 2.30pm.
Big day at Alstonville
The Alstonville junior soccer carnival will be held on Sunday.
Teams that have entered should go to the club website http://www.alstonvillefc.com.au today for starting times.
Lismore Workers 33
Richmond Rovers 31
Byron Bay 23
Lennox Head 11
Italo Stars 9
All teams except Goonellabah and Rovers have a game in hand.