Confronting: Alstonville’s Kurt Stephens (left) closes in on Goonellabah opponent Matt Dorigo in their premier league soccer match at Crawford Park, Alstonville, on Saturday.
Confronting: Alstonville’s Kurt Stephens (left) closes in on Goonellabah opponent Matt Dorigo in their premier league soccer match at Crawford Park, Alstonville, on Saturday. Jay Cronan

Thistles a thorn in Rovers side

IN one of the most remarkable East Lismore derbies in memory, Thistles upset defending premiers Richmond Rovers in a 5-4 goal-fest at Nielson Park in Football FNC premier league soccer on Saturday.

The scoreline could have been even higher had both sides not missed penalty attempts, but the stunning result all but ends Rovers’ hopes of a record fourth straight premiership double, leaving them trailing runaway leader Goonellabah by 12 points.

Rovers began well with player-coach Tim Sheridan scoring with a superb free kick, but the lead was short-lived as Thistles produced one of their best halves in years to rack up four goals by the break.

The Blues’ young striker Jake Nind bagged two goals, with flankers Matt Parrish and Nathan McCann also scoring as Thistles used their pace and ball movement to carve Rovers’ defence to shreds.

Thistles coach Ken MacPherson was delighted.

“Every player in the team deserves praise for a great effort, it’s the best we’ve played in years,” he said.

Ageless captain Darren Beardow was inspirational in midfield, while the tireless efforts of Nind and Parrish also made them standouts in a performance that will live long in the memories of Blues supporters.

Pottsville has emerged as a serious semi-final contender thanks to an entertaining 4-3 home win over second-placed Byron Bay.

The Panthers have built a reputation as being hard to beat on home soil and maintained their undefeated home record with another impressive performance based on fitness and attacking play.

Two headed goals from midfielder Josh Taylor gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead by half-time, but the complexion of the game changed after the break, with defender Blaze Coles, having contained the Rams’ new Japanese signing Kazuhiro Tsukamototo, replaced and in his absence the clever finisher found room to score his first goal for his new club.

Pottsville responded with a goal from former Byron player Glen Sheldrick for a 3-1 lead, but Tsukamoto again showed why he is so highly rated by the Rams, scoring his second goal to put Byron back in the match.

A controversial fourth goal from Pottsville put the game beyond the Rams’ reach, when their defence mis-read a passive offside call from the referee, allowing Sheldrick to pounce and score his second goal against his old club.

A late penalty for the Rams from Tom Ruhl gave the Panthers some nervous moments, but they hung on for a deserved win.

With only half the season completed Goonellabah has already established an almost unassailable 12-point lead on top of the ladder after a 4-2 away win over Alstonville.

Villa began well with a penalty from Daniel Baxter Wright, but the Hornets responded positively with three goals by half-time.

Kale Hopper lathered a brilliant volley into the Villa net following a free kick and also scored from the penalty spot, while striker Dave Annetts chipped the goalkeeper from close range for a 3-1 half-time lead.

The match was all over when Annetts bagged his second goal soon after the restart, giving the Golden Boot favourite a remarkable 13 goals from nine games.

Italo Stars restored some pride, breaking through for their first win of the season, downing Bangalow 2-0 on the Bluedogs’ home turf.

Matt Weir blasted a 25m shot into the Bluedogs’ net to give Stars a 1-0 half-time lead, then good lead-up play from Bill Latimer set up Josh Pascoe for the second goal.

Bangalow are now the only side without a win or a point and look destined for relegation.

A lucklustre 2-all draw between Ballina and Lismore Workers yesterday did little to help either side’s semi-final hopes.

Ballina had the home advantage but it was the Redmen who controlled most of the game, with two goals from Norwegian Andreas Lauvaas giving them a comfortable lead with 20 minutes to go.

But as Workers tired, Ballina came back to share the points.

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