LISMORE Thistles have taken a giant step towards ending their 21-year premiership drought as Football FNC men's premier division action continued.
The Blues claimed an impressive 3-1 away win over Lismore Workers on Saturday.
Victory over last year's major premiers has given the still-undefeated Blues a nine-point buffer on top of the ladder.
Two wins from their remaining four games will secure the title.
Workers began well with a penalty from Max Harlan in the eighth minute, but that was as good as it got for the Redmen.
The pace and intensity of Thistles' game gave them the edge and soon after Toby Barton equalised with a vicious drive that gave Workers 'keeper Simon Cleaver no chance.
The score remained at 1-1 until the break, but Thistles returned from the dressing rooms fired up and slotted two quick goals to clinch the game.
Darren Beardow capped a fine performance by heading in a Ryan Parmenter cross, before Matt Armstrong used his blistering pace to race clear and finish clinically.
Casino's hopes of avoiding relegation have been given a boost after a controversial last-minute penalty secured a tense 1-1 home draw against Richmond Rovers.
Rovers had been on top for most of the game with a goal from Sam Little putting them ahead until the referee awarded a hotly disputed dot shot.
Dylan Clarke handled the pressure to score with the last touch of the game, keeping the Cobras' hopes of survival alive.
In-form Alstonville secured a 4-2 away win over Byron Bay.
Villa's Danny Chatterton scored in the opening min- ute before converting again in the 20th.
Sequoya Lawson clawed a goal back for the Rams by half time, but when Villa striker Liam Giles cleverly chipped Rams 'keeper Pierce Essery, they were back on top.
Again Byron hit back through Herrick Schuleman, but the Rams then had Lachlan Dewar sent off.
Villa sealed the points with a final goal from Rick Hanna.
The result cost the Rams second spot, with Bangalow taking their place thanks to a 4-0 away win over Lennox Head.
A depleted Sharks were no match for the Bluedogs, who racked up goals to Luke Kunde, Joel Rudgley, Tom Ryzak and Daniel Bensley.
Goonellabah have eased their relegation fears after a torrid 3-2 away win over Italo Stars.
Goals from Dave Annetts, Lloyd Howard and Sean Dronfield lifted the Hornets five points clear of the bottom, where Stars and Casino still share last place.
The only down side for Goonellabah was a red card for Dave Annetts, while Stars' goals both came from Lee Simpson.
- Lismore Thistles (PL14, 36pts),
- Bangalow (14, 27),
- Byron Bay (13, 26),
- Lismore Workers (11, 20),
- Alstonville (13, 19),
- Richmond Rovers (12, 19),
- Lennox Head (12, 11),
- Goonellabah (12, 11),
- Italo Stars (12, 6),
- Casino (14, 6).
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