The Football Far North Coast Summer Youth League (SYL) kicked-off on Friday with defending champions Byron Bay FC travelling to Alstonville in Round 1.
Byron Bay are the SYL specialists having won the competition five times – including the past two seasons running. This year there is a big focus on youth and development with ten players under the age of 16, three overall players and another six aged between 17-20.
With the Rams’ SYL dominance and Alstonville having assembled a very strong squad, these two teams have been widely tipped to be the two sides battling for the title. As is the luck of the draw, they drew each other in the opening round.
The match was a fitting contest for a battle between the two competition favourites: fast, ferocious and with chances few and far between. In fact, it was a very even contest until the final 20 minutes.
Playing on the small Geoff Watt Oval, both teams were able to press the ball and limit the space for the opposition. Alstonville had the first chance of the match but 16-year-old goalkeeper Marcus Gibbs made an impressive save, tipping the ball onto the crossbar.
The second half started just as tightly as the first but as the game opened up, Byron began to take the ascendency. Unfortunately, the Rams were not able to take advantage of their late dominance with Tai Rai Naughton and Alex Kempnich shooting wide with Byron’s two opportunities.
Ultimately the scoreless draw was a fair result for both teams and the clean sheet was well deserved for the Byron defence and goalkeeper Gibbs.
The season continues as Byron Bay travel to John Ryan Field to take on Lismore Thistles this Friday 18 October. Kick-off is 8pm.