Thistles leave Rams with a thorny problem
Byron Bay 2 v Thistles 3
With a 7-2 win against Lismore Thistles in the first round of the Football Far North Coast Premier League, the top-of-the-table Byron Bay Rams were odds-on favourites to win on Saturday.
Thistles coach Ken McPherson said in the press he was just hoping his boys could get through the game without injuries.
So the Blues couldn’t believe their luck with their first goal by teenager Brenton Parrish after only 12 minutes. It was clear the Rams were having trouble on the hard, uneven surface.
The ball seemed to be filled with helium as it bounced high in the air. Jed Wright made a welcome return from injury after what seemed a very long month, however the Rams were still really missing powerhouse midfielders Bruce Morhaus and John Bradbury.
Thistles were double marking the Rams attackers and making it difficult for them to create any space, however Tim Knight made a run down the right touchline and was able to speed past his markers and put a powerful cross into the Thistles goalmouth.
The ball deflected off a defender and a little luck helped the Rams even the score.
The young Thistles midfielder Jonty Miller and his wingman Darren Beardow were able to control the midfield and a beautiful cross from the left wing to Parrish led to the Thistles’ second goal, much to the delight of their home crowd.
They went to the half-time break in the lead and clearly the superior team. It had the Rams scratching their heads and looking for answers.
In the second half the Rams came out with a little more fire in their bellies. From a corner kick, Yantra Whitling was able to put a ball past the Blues keeper in a goalmouth scramble to again even the score.
The goal seemed to make the Thistles players even more determined. They could see the Rams were playing far below their best, and could get a whiff of an upset win. Their every pass was on target and they gave the Rams defence line a real headache.
A beautiful build-up through the Blues midfield with pinpoint passing allowed their strikers to overpower the Rams defence again.
Adam Buckley was able to centre the ball for Jacob Arthur and slot it past the Rams keeper for their third goal.
With time running out, it sent the Thistles players and fans into hysterics. Within a few minutes it was all over and Lismore Thistles celebrated with gusto as giant-killers.
It will no doubt help avoid any relegation worries they had. It also sent shock waves through the Rams camp and will severely hamper any thoughts of a minor premiership.
Coach Peter Ware will have some serious concerns with his team after such a lacklustre effort.
Rams fans will be hoping they will be able to turn things around dramatically before their all important home clash with competition frontrunners Richmond Rovers this Saturday.
It will be the last chance Rams fans will get to see the players at a home game before the semi-finals and they will be looking for all the home-town support they can get to topple the Rovers.