Rovers put the boot into Byron’s undefeated run
RICHMOND Rovers have ended Byron Bay's dream of an undefeated season with a torrid 2-1 home win over the Rams in Far North Coast premier league soccer.
After 12 consecutive wins Byron were looking invincible, but the energy and attacking game plan of a determined Rovers derailed their hopes of an unbeaten record.
It was a tough and at times physical affair as both sides looked to assert themselves.
The league's top scorer Jonathan See showed his value to Rovers with the opening goal.
See drifted between two defenders to meet a through ball from Brad Bugden with a sweetly-timed volley, beating Rams goalkeeper Chris Jones and dipping into the net.
A frustrated Byron Bay brought more pressure on themselves by conceding numerous free kicks, allowing Rovers to build further momentum.
Not long after the restart the pressure told, with tall striker Andrew Gray nodding in their second goal from a long throw by Jacob Heffernan.
Facing their first loss of the season and running out of time, Byron showed some desperation and lifted near the end, clawing a goal back through Sam Owens.
With just seconds remaining, Rovers' stand-in 'keeper Dean Morgan capped a fine game by tipping a close-range shot over the cross-bar, allowing them to hang on for a memorable win.
One of the most pleasing aspects of the win for Rovers coach Brian Bugden was their new central defensive combination of Scott Flynn and Adam Gray, who did well to contain dangerous Rams strikers Connor Cannon and James Tomlinson.
The result keeps Rovers in third place and while it slows the Rams' progress, they are still favoured to take out their first minor premiership since 2006.
Bangalow and Alstonville remain locked in a battle for fifth place after both had convincing home wins.
Despite fielding a badly depleted line-up, Bangalow left Tintenbar on the bottom of the ladder after a 4-1 win, with two goals each for Joel Rudgley and Aryan Feresch.
Villa produced their best team performance of the season to rack up a 5-0 win over Lennox Head, highlighted by a hat-trick from Liam Giles and two goals in a minute from Phil Francis.
With five rounds remaining, Bangalow remains fourth, two points clear of Villa in a re-run of what happened last year.
Workers did enough to hold on to fourth place but were forced to work hard against a gritty Goonellabah for their 2-0 home win.
Bill Latimer had a strong game, having a role in the goals for Matt Keevers and Jamie Hill.
Yesterday, Ballina sprung one of the upsets of the season with a 2-1 away win over second-placed Thistles.
The Seahorses capitalised on some sloppy defence with goals to David Bowder and Matt Jeffery.
Matt Armstrong scored the Blues' only goal.