Lismore rams 2-0 home soccer win over Byron Bay
LISMORE Thistles has won the latest chapter in its fierce rivalry with Byron Bay, earning a 2-0 home victory over the Rams in FFNC's Premier League on Saturday.
After wrapping up the minor premiership last week, Byron wanted to build on their momentum before the semis, but came up against stubborn resistance from the Blues in just their second loss of the season.
Both sides struggled to hold possession during a scrappy first half, which was highlighted by a superb goal from Blues flanker Matt Armstrong.
Cutting in from the left wing, Armstrong drilled a left foot thunderbolt that whipped past Rams goalkeeper Chris Jones at his near post.
Byron lifted after the break with striker Kazi Tsukamato looking dangerous and forcing two desperate saves from Blues custodian Brad Robertson.
But Thistles weathered the storm and wrapped up the match when a clever ball from Darren Beardow snapped the Rams' off side trap, releasing Armstrong for a second well taken goal.
The goal triggered a skirmish between Jones and Blues defender Matt Cramp, with both paying a price. Jones was shown a red card and sent off, while Cramp received a yellow and will now miss their crucial final round clash with Richmond Rovers next week.
Blues striker Jake Nind will also miss the game after an earlier yellow card, but it is Jones and the Rams who have the bigger problem.
The lanky goalkeeper will be suspended for at least two games, ruling him out of next week's clash with Workers and their first semi-final, at least.
With little depth in their goal-keeping ranks, Rams coach Damon Bell suddenly has an unwelcome problem. Whoever takes his place will be thrown in at the deep end, just as the pressure of semi-finals begins.
Second placed Richmond Rovers have extended their winning streak to eight games, with a 3-1 away win over Goonellabah.
Jonathan See is assured of taking out the Golden Boot after scoring his 27th goal of the season, with Ben Morgan also finding the net, along with an own goal from Goonellabah.
Lloyd Howard scored for the Hornets, who remain three points clear of last-placed Tintenbar and should be safe from relegation, unless the Bar wins its last two games..
The other three games from the weekend's round were washed out, with Workers' home clash against Lennox Head now scheduled for tomorrow night.
The remaining two games, Bangalow against Alstonville and the local derby between Ballina and Tintenbar, with both to be played next Tuesday.