Thistles still hunt for top spot after beating Alstonville
DEFENDING minor prem-iers Lismore Thistles have kept alive their hopes of retaining the title with a hard-earned 3-1 home win over Alstonville in Far North Coast premier league soccer.
The Blues were gifted an early goal when a defensive error allowed the alert Ryan Parmenter to capitalise.
An even contest ensued with clear chances on goal rare until midway through the second half when Villa striker Phil Francis blasteda cracking shot into the top corner to equalise.
But with their title hopes on the line, the Blues showed plenty of hunger, which was rewarded with goals from Jake Nind and Matt Armstrong.
After losing their previous two games, the win was vital for the Blues to keep some pressure on league leader Byron Bay, which remains six points clear.
Lennox Head veteran Paul Kirkland starred in the Sharks' come-from-behind away win over Ballina.
Ballina looked on track to reverse their first-round loss after racing to a 2-0 lead with early goals from Nick Key and Matt Jeffery.
But the evergreen Kirk-land almost single-handedly turned the game, scoring twice before setting up Jarvis Foley for their third
A fourth goal from Aidan Griffiths wrapped up a memorable win for the Sharks.
"They boys showed great character and mental strength to come back the way they did," coach Troy Taylor said. "It's a young side but maturing fast."
A half-time spray from coach Joel Rudgley was needed to spark Bangalow into life in their 3-1 away win over Goonellabah.
A lacklustre Bluedogs trailed the last-placed Hornets 1-0 at half-time but during the break Rudgley reminded his players of the importance of the game and they responded with three second-half goals.
Christian Brown, Aryan Feresch and Daniel Bensly scored, lifting the Bluedogs to equal third with Richmond Rovers and Workers.
Byron Bay remain the undefeated league leaders after a thumping 9-0 home win over Tintenbar-East Ballina yesterday.
The Irish contingent led the way with Conner Cannon and Barry Woods scoring hat-tricks as the Rams showed up the gap between top and bottom of the ladder.