Rovers hit back with true grit
RICHMOND Rovers displayed all the grit and determination that has made them major premiers for the last four years during a stunning 5-2 away win over local rivals Lismore Thistles in FNC premier league soccer on Saturday.
Rovers were backing up for their third game in a week and after consecutive 3-1 losses to Goonellabah and Casino, were under enormous pressure to come up with a win.
That looked unlikely as Thistles’ fast-breaking attack saw them race to a 2-0 lead after 30 minutes, with goals from the Parrish brothers, Matthew and Brenton.
Rovers’ fightback began within a minute of the Blues’ second goal, with Shane Scicluna catching the Blues defence napping to reduce the margin to 2-1 at half-time.
Rovers looked a different side after the break and began to punish Thistles for playing a flat backline with balls behind their defence and the goals began to flow.
Jacob Heffernan scored from a corner, before two clinical goals from predatory striker Matthew Olley put the game beyond Thistles’ reach.
Substitute Jarrad Flower put the icing on the cake with a curling 35m shot for Rovers’ fifth goal, with the big win hoisting Rovers back on top of the ladder.
“We were under a lot of pressure and things didn’t flow in the first half, but we all had a good talk at half-time and went out to turn it around as quickly as we could,” Rovers coach Gary Smith said.
Casino backed up their surprise 3-1 midweek win over Rovers with a 3-0 result over Alstonville at Colley Park on Saturday.
The win over Rovers gave the newly promoted Cobras their first taste of success since returning to the top ranks and they proved it was no fluke with another enthusiastic performance that lifts them off the foot of the ladder.
Zac Innes scored the opening goal with a turn and hit from the edge of the box to give the Cobras a half-time lead, before a sensational start to the second half.
Casino kicked off and immediately sliced through the Villa defence, with Wayne Mortimer laying off a ball for veteran John Wraight to score.
Wraight put in a vintage performance and was instrumental in lifting his younger teammates, with his son Jeremy also having a big impact in central defence.
The Cobras wrapped up the win with a 35m free kick from Kevin Butwell that beat everyone as it drifted untouched into the net.
“Once again the effort was there from the boys and when we do that we can compete with any side,” Casino coach Scott Creighton said.
Lismore Workers had to come from behind twice before eventually securing a 2-2 home draw against a spirited Italo Stars on Friday night.
Clint Willoughby gave Stars an early lead before the Redmen drew level when Vinicius Leite ran onto a through ball for a first-time finish.
Pottsville has joined Richmond Rovers on top of the ladder while Ballina has dropped to the bottom, after the Panthers’ 1-0 away win over the Seahorses on Saturday.
Goonellabah has now accumulated four catch-up games after their clash with Byron Bay was washed out yesterday.