Story & photo Dogwhistle
Sunday’s challenge from Goonellabah Hornets was a real nail-biter for the Northern Hotel Rams – and the big Rec Ground crowd.
The Rams Reserves turned on their usual display of quality football, overwhelming the young Goonellabah team with five superb goals. Two from Tomás Do Prado Coelho, and one each from Herick Schuenemann, Will Ennis and James Tomlinson provided a convincing win to the Rams.
The Premier Division Hornets gave the Rams top squad their biggest scare of the season, setting a blistering pace from the kick-off. The match quickly became an epic battle for the midfield, with the Hornets’ Kaiden Powell upsetting the Rams’ rhythm and forcing his Byron counterpart Quinn McDonald into a more defensive mode than we’ve seen from Byron of late. Powell effectively disrupted the Rams’ attacking game and their goal-scoring machine struggled to get into high gear.
Fifteen minutes into the match a swift counterattack caught the Rams off guard and a defensive lapse gave Goonellabah an early lead. The unexpected turn ignited the Hornets’ spirits and the temperature rose as the visitors defended their advantage.
The Rams came out swinging after the break and a defender’s hand-ball in the Goonellabah box five minutes in gave Aaron Walker the dot-shot to equalise.
Locked at one goal apiece, the Rams and Hornets fought hard for the upper hand, with relentless attacks from the Byron squad and dangerous counters from Goonellabah. A series of spectacular saves from young Byron keeper Griffin Bambach kept the Rams in the game while the inexhaustible Goonellabah mid and defence thwarted them from finding the Hornets’ net. The tussle between McDonald’s midfield and Goonellabah’s Powell produced plenty of excitement and suspense right down to the final quarter, when overwhelming pressure from the Byron attack began to tell.
With just seconds of injury time remaining, a powerful drive from young sub Hari Scott was deflected into the path of Aaron Walker whose somewhat awkward finish secured the three points and much relief for the Rams.
The win, on top of Friday night’s forfeit from Lismore Workers, finally brings the Rams up to match parity and sees both Prems and Reserves leap-frog Richmond Rovers to take the lead in their respective tables.
This Saturday, the Rams are off to Casino for what is always a challenging encounter. The Reserves kick off at 1pm and the Prems at 3pm.
Rams striker Aaron Walker battles dogged Hornets’ defence.