Workers’ finals hopes alive
LISMORE Workers won the three-way tussle for third place in Football FNC's men's Premier League.
Workers' 1-0 win over Byron Bay Rams secured the city side third spot on the ladder as the regular season concluded and a second chance at a grand final berth.
The Redmen had to work hard for their victory over the Rams who were already assured of finishing second and had rested numerous players in preparation for the play-offs.
An entertaining game saw both sides create clean chances at goal, only to be denied by some good saves from both goalkeepers, Pierce Essery for the Rams and Workers' Simon Cleaver.
The deadlock remained unbroken until just minutes from fulltime, when Workers striker Martin Kelleher scrambled the ball over the line for his most important goal of the year.
The two sides will now meet again in next week's major semi, with the winner going on to meet minor premiers Lismore Thistles for a grand final berth.
Richmond Rovers have gained the home advantage for the elimination semi against Bangalow after wrapping up fourth place with a 2-0 home win in their local derby with Thistles.
The match was played at a frenetic pace with neither side having time to settle on the ball, but Rovers' ability to take their chances proved the difference.
Russell Dent pounced on a loose ball after a corner for their first goal, before a tidy finish from Jonathan See gave the in-form striker his ninth goal in three matches.
Thistles will now have next week off to prepare for their first semi but after remaining undefeated for 16 rounds, the Blues have lost some momentum after defeats in their final two games.
Alstonville has ended a frustrating season on a high with a 3-2 away win over Goonellabah.
After falling just short of the semis, Villa used the game to have some fun and gave their two goalkeepers a chance as strikers.
Incredibly, both Peter Weingarth and Sam Kerry took advantage of the rare opportunity and scored, along with defender Eamon Banks, who was also given a chance to show his skills up front.
After three tough years back in the top flight, Casino lost its battle against relegation with a 4-1 home loss to Bangalow.
The Cobras survived the cut last year with a final-round win and had the chance to repeat the feat, but the well-organised Bluedogs proved too strong.
Two goals from Korhan Ozakman, Matt Gavin and Batok Ring consigned the Cobras to the drop.
To reach the semis after being promoted at the start of the season is already an excellent result for Bangalow, which will now be the wildcard in the finals.
Italo Stars were grateful for Bangalow's win, after their 3-0 away loss to Lennox Head left them facing the cut if Casino had won.
The Sharks ended a difficult season on a high with goals from Blake Astley, Mani Singh and Chris Grogan.
FINAL 2013 REGULAR SEASON LADDER
Lismore Thistles (PL18, 42pts), Byron Bay Rams (38), Lismore Workers (35), Richmond Rovers (34), Bangalow (33), Alstonville (25), Lennox Head (15), Goonellabah (15), Italo Stars (10), Casino (7).