Story & photo Dogwhistle
With the Northern Hotel Premier Division Rams enjoying a well-earned week off, it was up to the second-placed Rams Reserves to win their way through to the next round of the finals series on Sunday.
The Rams Reserves faced down third-placed Lismore Thistles in a tough and physical battle that went down to the wire.
Byron hit the ground running and opened the scoring three minutes in with a superb cross form Jonathan Pierce finding Kazuhiro Tsukamoto unmarked in the box.
Tsukamoto’s finish clearly signalled the Rams’ intent and, ten minutes later, another precision cross from Pierce put Conor Cannon on the spot and another clean strike put the Rams ahead by two goals. Moments later, a quick counterattack caught the Byron defence wrong footed and Thistles put themselves back in the game.
A long throw from Corey Goldstone sparked a goalmouth flurry at the thirty-minute mark that ended with a close-range goal from Conor Cannon. Seconds before halftime, the Rams conceded a penalty that again let Thistles back into the game at 3–2 against the run of play.
Thistles emerged for the second half determined to redeem their scrappy first half and held Byron to their own half for more time than the Rams would have liked. Halfway through the session, a red card sent the Lismore team’s primary defender to the showers and the Rams piled on the pressure.
Late in the second half, a defensive error saw a long ball roll into the Byron goal to give Thistles and unlikely equaliser.
A handball in the Thistles’ box gave Byron their fourth goal and Conor Cannon his hat-trick in the dying moments of the game.
Barely a minute later, Cannon crossed to Will Ennis in front of goal and Ennis made no mistake, the final goal giving the Rams a more respectable 5–3 win.
The Rams Reserves now face pointscore champs Richmond Rovers in Lismore on Friday at 8pm for the second semifinal.
The Premier Rams take on Rovers at home at 2pm on Saturday in the Premier League second semifinal.
The Byron Bay Wildcats women’s second division team also had a convincing 4–2 semifinal win over rivals Italo Stars on Sunday. The win takes the Wildcats through to next round of the finals series against Goonellabah, in Goonellabah, on Sunday at 12.30pm.
It was a great season overall for Byron Bay FC, with all of the senior teams – men’s and women’s – making the finals.
The men’s second- and third-grade teams were eliminated on the weekend, but our Wildcats seconds, fourths and 15s are still in contention for a Grand Final berth as are our grades 12, 13 and 16 juniors.