FOOTBALL fans were treated to two exciting and hard-fought matches at the Byron Bay Memorial Recreation Grounds on Sunday when The Byron Bay Services Club Prems and Reserves took on Lismore Thistles.
The Reserves set the tone for the afternoon, grinding out a scoreless draw against their Lismore counterparts. Both sides created plenty of opportunities but a decisive goal failed to materialise.
The Premier lads put on a suspense-filled show in their match, going from one down to one up late in the game.
The first half was a fairly even contest, with Thistles pressing forward and the Rams dangerous on the counterattack. Byron's young chargers were back in sync and giving the Lismore midfield and defence a workout.
Byron stalwart Ben Ahern took a more attacking role than his usual defensive mid and came very close to putting the Rams on the board early.
Thistles took the first goal late in the first half when a penalty saved by Pierce Essery was put away on the second rebound by the swarming Lismore attack.
The Rams turned up the heat in the second half, with James Tomlinson's defence holding strong and Yusmel Mustelier, Jack Martin, Zac Miletic and Ethan Archer piling on pressure up front.
Byron's slick combinations finally bore fruit when a lightning cross skimmed past the head of Martin to be finished by Mustelier on the back post.
One minute later and the Rams won possession from the kick-off and stormed the Thistles goal. Young Kiwi Rick Muir outran a shell- shocked Thistles defence and drove home Byron's second goal.
The late reversal fired up both sides and the final few minutes were the most exciting in the game. A spirited Thistles counterattack in the dying moments earned them a corner and Lismore converted to take a heartbreaking equaliser.
The single point was not enough to lift the struggling Rams up the ladder but was enough to put Thistles at the top of the table. The Rams go to Lismore next Sunday to play Richmond Rovers. Reserves kick off 12.30pm, Prems at 2.30pm.