A tough, tough week for the Byron Bay prems with three games in seven days. After a hard-fought win over Stars the preceding weekend, The Rams made the trek to Casino for another tough clash on Tuesday, June 21.
Casino, returning to the Premier Division after several years’ absence, started the season slowly but hit form with three wins on the trot – including a fine 3-1 away win at over champions, Rovers. The Rams Tuesday night line-up was Layton Barton in goal, Toby Barton and Sam Robson at full backs, Nolan Pierce and Ian Lennie in central defence, Aaron Richter-Steers central mid-field, Jon Pierce down the right, Sam Owens down the left and Shannan Maciejewski, Kazahiro Tsukamoto and Jordy Campbell took the front.
The game started at pace with lively incursions from both teams. Two chances went begging as the Rams began to gain the upper hand. An unfortunate hand-ball by a Casino defender saw Byron awarded a penalty. Jordy Campbell’s misplaced strike was deflected by the Casino Keeper’s knees on to the boot of the pursuing Richter-Steers who tapped it into the net.
With a goal in hand, the Rams began to play some lovely football, carving through a stretched Casino defence at will. Campbell redeemed himself with a fine finish for a second goal. The Byron boys played superbly with Pierce and Owens causing Casino problems down the flanks, over-lapping runs from both full backs, great support play from Maciejewski and Richter-Steers and chance after chance created – but not finished.
A long free kick from the Casino half caught the Byron defence napping and forced a superb save from keeper Barton. The ball rebounded to the feet of a supporting Casino player who slotted it home very nicely from 20m.
Play see-sawed from end to end until the Rams gradually regained control and restored their two goal cushion with a fine strike from Jon Pierce that left the Casino keeper with no chance at all.
At half-time and 3-1, a tiring Owens was replaced by Corey Montgomery.
It was more of the same in the second half with chance after chance created and squandered while Casino fought hard, ran, chased and harried and kept themselves in the game. The Rams should have been well clear but a speculative cross in the 88th minute sailed over Barton and into the net. There were some difficult moments for Byron as Casino pressed for an equaliser. Byron held them out and managed another two missed chances. (As the competition moves towards the finals, the Rams inability to finish the chances it creates is becoming a critical.) It was another hard-fought game against a good, honest, hard working Casino side. The Cobras should have no problems staying in the Premier Division on current form.
Good performances from Rams Jonno Pierce, Ian Lennie, Nolan Pierce, Sam Owens, Shannan Maciejewski, Sam Robson and man of the match Toby Barton. Montgomery did well as substitute and Richter-Steers was his usual majestic self.
The reserves came from behind to draw 1 – 1 in a great game of entertaining football, Herik Scheunemann scoring a wonder goal to level after an early defensive mix up let Casino in for the opener. Good games for Tom Baker, Todd Jones and Mav White.
The week Culminated with the visit to the Byron grounds of reigning champions, Richmond Rovers. With the Lismore club top of the table and the Rams in second, it was the match of the round.
As wet weather catch-up games are played, a clearer picture of the top of the table is emerging, with Lismore powerhouses Rovers and Thistles, the ever impressive Goonellabah and Byron Bay occupying the top 4.
The Rams’ starting line-up was the same as for the Casino game, with the returning Bruce Morhaus replacing Kazahiro (who had an exam) up front.
Byron started brightly and settled well. Richter-Steers and Maciejewski ran the mid-field and moved the ball quickly causing constant problems for the well organised and competitive Rovers back line. Young full backs Barton and Robson were a constant threat on the overlap and kept Rovers’ speedsters, See and Scicluna contained. Pierce and Lennie were in commanding form at the back, handling everything Rovers had to offer.
Rovers are a Champion side and there is never a time to relax against them. The Rams were lucky to get away with a lapse in concentration in the 30th minute that saw a Rovers player shoot wide when well placed.
Byron stepped up the pace, trying to force a goal before the break and good work down both flanks from Pierce and Owens led to chances that, again, went begging. Morhaus went down with a pulled hamstring in the 42nd minute to be replaced by late arrival Kazahiro.
Although scoreless at the break, the Rams had dominated the first half in possession and chances.
The second half saw three good chances fall to Campbell, two to Kazahiro and more to others, but for all of the pressure, the Rams just couldn’t score on the day. Layton Barton was excellent in goals, the back four superb and the mid-field outstanding going forward and in defence. Campbell, Kazahiro and Morhaus were tireless and threatening up front. The Rams contained the ever-threatening Rovers front line, got the ball down and played some class football, down the flanks and up the middle, to great effect.
After playing so well, it was disappointing to come away without the win.
A good performance from all, however, and a great display of quality local football. Shannan Maciejewski was named man of the match.
The reserves went down 4-0 after playing with 10 men from the 34th minute following Korhan Ozakman’s dismissal for two very silly yellow cards when the Rams were obviously well on top. Good games for Farren, Tom Baker and Man of the Match, Herik Scheunemann, 1st division went down 4-1 to Burringbar, 3rd Division went down 4-0 to Thistles despite a sterling effort.
4th Division played well but went down 2-1 and the still unbeaten 6th Division had a great 2-1 win over a strong Rovers side, Paul Scharka getting off his skateboard to fire in the winner with an impressive 270 deg flick back.
A weakened Womens Premier League squad went down 8-0 in the local derby v Bangalow on Friday night but returned to winning ways with a fine 1-0 win over Workers on Sunday.