Although the Byron Rams’ came home the winners with 3 points, the Premier grade football Squad’s trip out west to play the Casino Cobras on the weekend is one they would rather forget. Several Premier reserves players were unavailable in the first game and they were forced to plug the gaps with top grade players in the first game. The 3rd rate Casino pitch full of potholes, deep dips and ruts is far below the standard of any other on the FNC. That, combined with match balls out of round made it near impossible to control or pass the ball accurately. That point certainly evened the odds for the weaker Cobras team and they took every advantage they could. Byron were missing Shaun Packham and Victor Pires and just 7 minutes in they payed the price for not clearing the ball out of the back 1/3 effectively. Veteran Cobras player John Wraight pounced on a loose ball and slammed it into the Rams net from the edge of the penalty box. The Rams just couldn’t get the hang of the uneven pitch and wobbly balls and played well below their best for the rest of the game. They squandered shot after shot on goal with few on target through lack of control. Even after a Casino player was sent off for dissent after a free kick at the 20 minute mark the Cobras repositioned well and the Rams failed to score.
Going into the 2nd half it had to be said the game had been a flat and uninspiring performance, in stark contrast to the Rams exciting 9-0 whitewash of Italo Stars at home last weekend. It was another 20 minutes until Tom Ruhl put a ball past the Casino keeper only to have it disallowed for being offside. Soon after, Ruhl slipped a pass away to Sammy Owens on the flank. He dribbled the ball at pace to the backline and shot a cross to Herrick Schuenemann in front of goal. Schuenemann ever the showman scored a cracker goal with a beautiful diving header to even the score. The Cobras players were dropping like flies from the intense hit ups and towards the end ran out of substitutes and had to play with 9 men. Every time the Rams advanced on goal the Cobras dropped back, closed ranks and “parked the proverbial bus” in front of goal. They had a sea of legs and bodies to deflect the Rams shots on goal.
In the last ¼ the Rams poor run of luck had to change. Owens made yet another attacking run up the left flank until he was stopped in his very fast tracks with some foolish and blatant shirt tugging from a desperate Cobra defender just a few metres from goal. The referee gave the penalty and set play specialist Aaron Richter-Steers coolly out witted the keeper and took the score to 2-1. However it seems the ref was the only person not to see a blatant hand ball soon after by another desperate Casino defender just out from goal and the 2-1 score line remained until the final whistle. The Rams were thankful for the 3 points and hoping they could return to form for the Monday night catch up game with arch rivals Richmond Rovers on Monday night.