Story & photos Dogwhistle
The Lennox Head Sharks came to Byron on the weekend eager to be the first to take a win from competition leaders the Northern Hotel Byron Bay Rams but youth, enthusiasm and gutsy determination were not quite enough to take the three points from the reigning pointscore champions.
Byron Bay once again demonstrated its ability to field two top-level teams, with its Reserves completely overwhelming the Lennox Head second-string side.
Five minutes into the match, a studs-up challenge by the Lennox keeper gave Byron a penalty that was neatly despatched by Tyson Kaye.
Thirty minutes in, Tane Meek made a flanking run, cut through the Lennox defence and neatly chipped the keeper to make it 2–0. Just before the break, Lennox conceded another penalty – this time executed by Conor Cannon.
Early in the second half Tyson Kaye turned a ball 23 metres out drove it into the Lennox net. Conor Cannon finished cleanly to round out the final score at 5–0.
An ambitious and much-improved Lennox side provided the undefeated Rams with perhaps its biggest challenge so far this season and produced some thrilling and entertaining football for the fans.
The action came hard and fast from the opening whistle, with play swinging from end to end and some tough defending from both sides that kept the scoreline deadlocked at 0–0 into the break.
Byron probably had the better of the run of play, with a relentless attack from James Tomlinson, Tyson Kaye, Jordy Campbell, Conor Cannon, Michael Kelly and Sam Owens foiled repeatedly by the heroic goalkeeping of Layton Barton.
The second half proved to be even more intense. Five minutes in Michael Kelly managed to thread a ball through the crowded box and, with a helpful deflection, beat keeper Barton to take Byron to a 1–0 lead.
The Rams’ jubilation was short lived, as the Sharks’ Byron Milne responded with an equaliser minutes later.
Byron rebooted its massive attack, hammering the Lennox goal while backline fended off the Sharks’ quick counterattacks.
The Lennox defence fought valiantly to hold back the Rams’ onslaught, but it was a series of spectacular saves from Barton that ultimately denied Byron victory.
The Reserves’ win sees them move back to the top of the ladder, while the Prems remain on top with a five-point lead and three matches to go.
This Saturday, the Rams head to Lismore to take on Goonellabah, who will be battling to keep alive their semifinal hopes. Reserves kick off at 1pm and the Prems at 3pm.