Thistles approach Anzac Cup hat-trick with win over Byron

LISMORE Thistles are on track for a third consecutive Tursa Anzac Cup title, after an impressive 4-2 demolition of last year's Cup final opponent Byron Bay on Sunday.

Byron had the home advantage but couldn't contain a rampant Blues, who established a 3-1 lead by the break.

Wide defender Jeremy Sullivan starred, scoring Thistles' first goal with a 30m shot, before assisting Josh Wraight and Matt Bale to join him on the scoresheet.

Tyson Kaye scored late in the half for the Rams, but when Jordan Nind netted the Blues fourth goal after the break, it was all over.

M. Bale from The Lismore Thistles moves the ball forward against Alstonville FC. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star
TOP PLAYER: Lismore Thistles’ Matt Bale was in fine form in the game against Byron Bay on Sunday. Patrick Gorbunovs

Will Ennis scored the Rams second consolation goal, but coach Jeremy Sutton conceded they were well beaten.

"Thistles played very well, they have a good system and stuck to it and while we rallied well and showed some heart in the second half, they deserved the win" he said.

Blues coach Rod Lees praised Sullivan, Wraight and Nind for their roles, along with young keeper Ben Albertini, who pulled off several important saves.

"The boys produced an extremely strong performance. It got physical at times, but we kept our focus and dominated most of the game with our passing and possession game" Lees said.

The Blues can seal a semi berth with as little as a draw against Alstonville in their final pool game on Friday, while Byron Bay needs a win over Ballina while hoping other results go their way.

Alstonville and Richmond Rovers damaged each other's semi hopes, after playing out a 2-2 draw at Crawford Park.

Goals on the counter from Rovers strikers Andrew Casagrande and Bobby Bugden gave them a 2-1 lead at the break, with Rich Hanna slotting a penalty for Villa.

Hanna proved Villa's saviour in the second half after a defence-splitting ball from Josh Cole found his diagonal run, allowing him to touch the ball past Rovers keeper Andrew Marshall for the equaliser.

Rovers must beat Lennox Head by at least a two-goal margin in next week's final round to steal the Sharks's place in the semis.

Lennox moved to the top of their pool group with a goal from defender Shaun Gillespie giving them a 1-0 away win over local rivals Ballina, making the Sharks the only side yet to concede a goal.