Late goal gets Rovers win
RICHMOND Rovers have emerged as the only side with a realistic chance of chasing down runaway leader Byron Bay after a late goal delivered a fortuitous 3-2 away win over Lennox Head in Far North Coast premier league soccer.
Rovers started well when a ball from their best player Russell Dent set up player-coach Bobby Bugden to volley in the opening goal after just three minutes.
From there on it was the Sharks who dominated possession and they drew level when Byron Milne took the ball to the bye line and crossed for Jervis Foley to finish.
Within minutes Rovers hit back through Bugden and Dent again, this time with Bugden giving the final touch for Dent to score.
The Sharks stuck to their guns after half-time and were rewarded when Milne netted an equaliser, setting up a dramatic finish.
With just minutes remaining Rovers' new recruit, former Workers star Kurt Walker, proved his value with the winning goal.
Keeping his feet in the slippery conditions, Walker evaded the defence to beat the goalkeeper to a headed ball and score a priceless first goal for his new club.
While the crucial win keeps Rovers' minor premiership hopes alive, Bugden was realistic in his assessment of the game.
"We were lucky to win it," he said. "I almost felt guilty about it after Lennox had dominated possession so well, but we have some quality players capable of taking games away from opposing sides."
Goonellabah moved back into semi-final calculations with a 4-0 away win over last-placed Ballina.
The Hornets produced some of their best football of the season to lead 3-0 at half-time with former Thistles player Jason Woollett scoring his first goal for the club, along with the first goal of the year for player-coach John Eakin.
Jack Lyons and Batok Ring also scored, with the Hornets now building some momentum after three straight wins with three clean sheets.
A late goal from Ben Sharkey allowed Lismore Workers to escape with a 2-1 home win over a gallant Bangalow.
The Redmen wasted several chances as they dominated the first half and didn't score until early in the second, when Paddy Kable found the net through a crowded box.
But the Bluedogs hit back with an equaliser from Taha Belaazziz and looked like hanging on for a hard-earned point before Sharkey's last-gasp strike lifted the Redmen back into the top five.
Byron Bay maintained its undefeated record and five-point buffer on top of the ladder with a 3-1 away win over Lismore Thistles, despite playing more than half the game with 10 men.
Alejo Vilasana was sent off late in the first half but it made little difference to the Rams, with two goals from Tyson Kaye and one from Michael Kelly, while the Blues' only score came from a Byron own goal.
Alstonville and Casino played the first nil-all draw of the season in the other game but the point still lifted Villa into fourth place.