RAMMING IT HOME
Resilient Byron Bay downs Bangalow in extra time
I thought outplayed them, even with 10 men we dominated — Damon Bell
TEN-man Byron Bay won the Far North Coast premier league soccer grand final in a 2-1 extra time win over Bangalow at Richards Oval, Lismore on Saturday night.
A double from player-ofthe-match Joel Wood secured the win and a historic treble for the Rams, who also won the point score and Anzac Cup trophies this season.
Byron started strongly and was rewarded early when Thiago Prioris’s long pass found Wood, who rounded Bangalow goalkeeper Jefte Juarez- Leiva and finished from a tight angle to give the Rams the lead.
Byron’s joy was short lived as midfielder Ben Ahearn was sent off in the 16th minute for a lunging tackle on Bangalow midfielder Joel Rudgley.
Bangalow clawed its way back into the match and capitalised midway through the second half when Sam Ireland pounced a loose ball to level the scores at 1-all.
Neither side was able to further impact the scoring despite several chances at both ends, forcing the game into extra time.
Byron found the breakthrough when Gianluca Bongiovanni broke free on the right flank and squared to Wood, who made no mistake with his finish to secure a win for the Rams.
Byron Bay coach Damon Bell praised his side for its resilience.
“It was a hard game. We lost a player in the first 15 minutes, we played 75 minutes of normal time with 10 men who carried on into extra time and got the result, which was fantastic,” Bell said.
“I thought we outplayed them, even with 10 men we dominated, it’s a great win to win the treble for the first time.
“It’s the best season in Byron Bay’s history, the strength all around the park, the depth of the squad, it was easy to coach, they’re all quality players.”
Bangalow coach Neil Fuller felt it was an opportunity missed for his side.
“With them getting a guy sent off so early on, we should’ve capitalised,” Fuller said.
“Defensively we weren’t as good as we could be tonight. Our finishing let us down a bit too.”
TITLE COLLECTED: Byron Bay celebrates after winning the Far North Coast soccer premier league grand final on Saturday night.