Billed as the ‘Match of the Season’, Sunday’s clash between top of the table rivals, Byron Bay and Lismore Thistles was no disappointment. The reserve grade teams were fairly evenly matched, with Byron looking the stronger early in the game. A couple of extraordinary defensive lapses from Thistles saw Byron’s lead extend to 3-1 before the Lismore outfit rallied and clawed back two to finish the match at 3-all. Another strong team effort form the Byron Reserves, with outstanding performances from Tai Flanagan, Jono Pierce and Lucas O’Donnell.
The much anticipated Premier division match saw Thistles (down two key players) take to the pitch with a very defensive mindset. The Rams, determined not to let this one get away, went in hard from the opening whistle. A series of lightning-fastattacks from the Rams’ Kazahiro Tsukamoto and Connor Cannon kept Thistles on the back foot and forced some spectacular work from the Lismore ‘keeper.
Byron’s able midfield and back line had the Thistles’ counter attacks under control while the Lismore defence held back a sustained hammering from the Byron forwards.
Sixty minutes in, a soft red card for Sam McIntyre left Byron with a ten man team and a fast and furious battle for the top of the table honours.
Far from wilting, however, the Byron attack became more resolved and relentless, forcing Thistles into an even more defensive mode – repeatedly kicking the ball out of bounds under the mounting pressure.
The deadlock was finally broken when a corner from Conor Cannon was dropped by the Thistles ‘keeper. Byron fullback Nick Baker pounced on the wayward ball to give the Rams a 1-nil lead.
The Byron attack continued right to the whistle, with only great saves from Lismore ‘keeper preventing a bigger margin.
Stand out performances fro the Rams were from the tireless Tsukamoto and Cannon up front, Michael Kelly, Lachie Dewar in the midfield and Nick Baker, the Packham brothers and keeper, Chris Jones. Heading into the second half of the season, the undefeated Byron Bay is now a clear and deserving leader of the Football Far North Coast Premier division and looking like a serious contender for minor and major premiership honours.
[mainpic] MAINPIC / Byron’s tireless Kazahiro Tsukamoto races defender Max Hospers for the line click any image to view the full gallery / all images © Dogwhistle Creative[/mainpic]