A file picture of Ian McGregor, who scored Rovers’ first goal on Saturday and featured in a tough midfield battle with Pottsville.
A file picture of Ian McGregor, who scored Rovers’ first goal on Saturday and featured in a tough midfield battle with Pottsville.

Richmond Rovers get back on track

A BADLY needed 4-1 home win over Pottsville on Saturday has put Richmond Rovers’ premiership defence back on track in Football FNC premier league soccer.

After losing their past two games the defending premiers desperately needed a win to restore confidence and got away to a dream start with a soft penalty after just two minutes.

Ian McGregor coolly took the chance to settle Rovers’ nerves but as the game developed Pottsville showed they had the ability to trouble the defence, with their running off the ball and incisive passing creating several good chances.

While the Panthers failed to capitalise on their opportunities, Rovers striker Jessie Hartman showed them how it’s done, racing on to a through ball to beat the goalkeeper with a deft flick, giving Rovers a 2-0 half-time lead.

But the Panthers were rewarded for their enterprise soon after the restart, with a well-constructed goal from Adam Rogers throwing the game wide open.

Pottsville’s towering player-coach David Lonie was having a big influence with his high work rate, good ball control and distribution continually creating problems for Rovers.

His battle with Aaron Heffernan and Ian McGregor in midfield was a highlight of the game, but in the end Rovers prevailed with late goals from Hartman and sub striker Chris Matthews.

The late goals led to a somewhat flattering 4-1 scoreline that failed to do justice to the efforts of Pottsville, which managed to finda lot of space in Rovers’ defence at times.

It looks like a long, hard season ahead for early relegation favourite Bangalow after the Bluedogs made it three losses from three starts with a 3-0 away loss to Lismore Thistles.

Goals from Max Hospers, Jake Nind and Darren Beardow gave the Blues a comfortable win, with their best being defenders Jake Spears and Grant Sinclair.

Alstonville broke the ice for its first win, downing local rivals Ballina 2-1 at Crawford Park on Friday night.

Villa led 1-0 at half-time thanks to a penalty from Daniel Baxter-Wright, but former Villa striker Troy Cook equalised for Ballina soon after the restart in his first game against his old club.

The winning goal came from big midfielder Richard Russell, who drilled a low free kick into the seasiders’ net 15 minutes from time to earn Villa’s first points of the season.

The premier league round will be completed on Tuesday night when Goonellabah meet Lismore Workers and Byron take on Italo Stars.

Solo Cup

GOONELLABAH and Byron Bay continue to fly the Far North Coast flag in the $10,000 Northern NSW Solo Cup after both secured their place in the third round with wins on Saturday.

Goonellabah defeated Taree Wildcats 4-3 with a late goal at Maclean, while the Rams travelled to Woolgoolga where they crushed Tamworth FC 5-1.

Flanker Mitchell Edwards scored the opening goal for the Hornets, but Taree hit back soon after for a 1-all half-time scoreline.

Further goals from Dave Annetts and Kale Hopper were also followed by quick responses from Taree, leaving the game at 3-all with just minutes to go.

The winning goal came from an unusual source, with coach Mark Ambler pushing defender Daniel Morrow forward into midfield and he responded with a cracking shot into the top corner.

Byron Bay produced a much better performance than their Anzac Cup final loss to Goonellabah to earn a comprehensive 5-1 win over Tamworth FC.

Striker Jordy Campbell had a strong game and scored twice, with Ben Coulter, Tom Ruhl and Tim Knight also finding the net.

Defender Bruce Knaggs and flanker Baitok Thonkol also had big games in a welcome return to top form for the Rams.

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