Rams on the road to FFA Cup finals
THE in-form Northern Hotel Byron Bay Rams came out firing against the Coffs Coast Tigers in Saturday's FFA Cup qualifying final at Lismore's Southern Cross Football Centre.
The two teams were fighting for a place in the next round of the FFA Cup Championships, with the Rams running out 5-1 winners.
The Rams hit the Tigers hard from the opening whistle, with two dangerous runs on the Tigers' goal and two corners within the first two minutes.
Five minutes in and the Rams took their first point with free kick from Thiago Priori finding the head of Gianluca Bongiovanni, whose perfect header left no chance for the Coffs keeper.
Despite completely dominating the play, the rest of the opening session was a frustrating affair for the Rams with the goal drought broken early in the second half when a hard tackle brought down Sam Shepherd in the Tigers box. Bongiovanni stepped up and finished the ensuing penalty to take a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers then took advantage of a defensive lapse and gained a glimmer of hope with a surprise goal.
The Rams quickly regained control and midway through the second half, Sam Shepherd broke through with a 40-metre run before crossing to Bongiovanni, who slotted in his third.
Jono Pierce came off the bench to lob a spectacular shot from near the halfway that cleared the keeper to make it 4-1. A corner from Pierce in the final moments of the match reached Simon McCarthy on the back post who headed the ball on to the boot of Bongiovanni, who tapped in his fourth and sealing an emphatic 5-1 victory.
The win takes the Rams through to the Newcastle round of finals over the June 10 long weekend and a chance to take on some heavy hitters from the National Premier League.
The Byron squad heads to Lismore this Saturday to meet Richmond Rovers in the regular season comp.
Reserves kick off at 1pm and the Prems at 3pm.