byron rams weigh up their semi final hopes

Tim Knight v Thistles (Archive: Anzac Cup Semi Final) [© Dogwhistle Creative]

The Park Hotel – Coopers Byron Bay Rams are weighing up their chances for their path to the Football Premier League Final after dispatching Ballina on Saturday 3-1. Lismore Workers looks set to be the team to beat, sitting firmly on top of the table. However the Rams have as good a chance to be in the Final as any of the top 5 teams even though they are sitting in 4th position on the Premier League table. Byron has beaten both Richmond Rovers and Goonellabah sitting at 2nd and 3rd respectively. However Lismore Thistles will be buoyed by their 2-2 draw with Byron on Tuesday night in a catch up game that the fans say should have gone Byron’s way. Although Workers beat a depleted Rams team convincingly in their last encounter amid some bizarre refereeing decisions, Byron can take heart from the fact they only narrowly lost to Workers in the pre season Anzac Cup Grand Final with the winning goal coming in the final seconds of extra time in another controversial game.

The Friday night encounter with cellar dwellers Ballina started well enough for the Rams with their attacks bringing 7 shots on the Seahorses’ goal in the first 10 minutes. However Just 15 seconds after the Rams had pushed forward and hit Ballina’s crossbar yet again, the Seahorses struck back with a fast break on the counter and left the Rams open. A long range chip over Rams keeper Kai Connell and into the net by Brock Spencer took Ballina to an unexpected early lead which they kept until half time. To say the game was lacklustre apart from a few moments of brilliance would be an understatement. The strain of 2 midweek games in a week was telling and we didn’t get to see the tired Rams usual fast flowing game of domination and skilled play. The young Ballina sides’ gritty determination was making up for what they lacked in skill.

Sam Robson v Thistles (Archive: Anzac Cup Semi Final) [© Dogwhistle Creative]

15 minutes into the 2nd half Coach Peter Ware made a tactical substitution with young Yoshi Madder coming on for Shaun Packham who had returning to the squad for the first time after a serious injury. Not long after Ware made some positional changes, Rams golden boot striker Jordy Campbell took control of the ball on the left wing and passed to Victor Pires in front of goal. He had a 1 on 1 with the keeper but drew him and laid the ball off to Madder. He just had to caress the ball across the line to even the score. The Rams drew more confidence now and started to dominate more but just couldn’t seem to find the net. Thirty Three minutes into the 2nd half The Rams took the lead after a beautiful build up starting with Madder passing to Campbell then to Herrick Schuenemann. He flicked a pass to Sam Robson who beat the defender on the edge of the box and cut the ball back to Herrick for him to tap into goal. (2-1) Just 3 minutes later the Byron fans were on their feet again when Herrick controlled the ball inside the Ballina box. He cut it back out to Yantra Whitling and he whipped it in to the back post. Madder was waiting and headed it into the top right hand corner. 3-1 The score was unchanged at full time and the Rams will have another opportunity against Thistles in Lismore next Sunday.

Rick Knight