SOCCER: Finals blow for Thistles as Bluedogs battle back

LISMORE Thistles semi final hopes have been dealt another body blow, with the Blues having to come from behind twice before finally escaping with a 2-2 away draw against a plucky Bangalow in Far North Coast premier league soccer on Tuesday night.

Hard on the heels of their 1-0 loss to Alstonville on Friday, Thistles have now completed all their catch up games, but still remain three points adrift of the top five.

Bangalow's young outfit started well and took an early lead when striker Taha Belaazziz scored, but the Blues drew level by half time thanks to a headed goal from a corner by Darren Beardow.

Belaazziz was again involved in the Bluedogs second goal, releasing Scott Fuller with a long ball and he made no mistake with a clean finish.

On the verge of their first win of the season, the Bluedogs were dismayed when a hotly disputed penalty was awarded to Thistles, allowing Luke McWaide to level the scores from the ensuing spot kick.

"We should have won it" disappointed Bangalow coach Neil Fuller said.

"We scored two good goals from open play, while they had to rely on two set plays.

"But overall I'm very pleased with the boys performance and we're now looking forward to taking on Goonellabah on Saturday."

While Belaazziz played a key role for the Bluedogs, Ben Mitchell also stood out in central midfield and Jack Fuller in central defence, in one of their best performances of the season.

Thistles coach Rod Lees described their performance as lack lustre, with frustration growing as chances continued to be missed.

"But you've got to pay credit to Bangalow, they played an up tempo game and kept us under pressure in midfield" Lees said.

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