Bobcats face daunting task
By GRANT NEILSON Soccer writer
THE Maclean Bowling Club Bobcats have a mountain to climb if they are to make the semi-finals of the Far North Coast Premier League soccer after a 2-1 home defeat to Byron Bay on the weekend.
After taking the lead midway through the first half, the Bobcats went back to their early season bad habits and let Byron come from behind in a free-flowing match.
The Bobcats must now win five of their last six games to be any chance of making the semis.
The good-sized crowd that was on hand came to see some high quality soccer and they were not disappointed as two of the more elegant teams in the competition pushed the ball around.
In-form Aaron Swanson put the Bobcats ahead after 20 minutes when he unleashed a swerving shot from 25 metres out that lodged itself in the top left corner, giving the Byron keeper no chance.
At this point both teams were looking dangerous and exploiting the wide areas of the park and it was not long before Byron equalised when they were awarded the first of their two penalties.
The teams went to the break 1-1 with the game very much in the balance.
In the second half the Bobcats started slowly and Byron were getting to the ball first on a regular basis.
After 15 minutes this proved fatal for the Maclean team as stagnant defending left sweeper Gary Carmichael exposed at the back and he brought down a Byron player in the box for their second penalty that was calmly converted.
The game really opened up after this with the Bobcats committing more players forward to get on even terms and Byron trying to catch the locals undermanned at the back on the break.
Both keepers needed to be alert to keep the scores at 2-1 at full time.
It was a solid display from the Bobcats that restricted Byron from scoring in open play, but to concede two penalties was disappointing.
Swanson, Carmichael and Terry Wratten, deputising in goals, were the locals best.
It was a weekend of poor results all round for the Bobcats with the Premier reserves going down 2-0 against Byron, and in the third grade local derby, the Bobcats were also beaten 3-0 by Yamba.
Special mention goes to Joe Turner who played in both these matches as the Bobcats were stretched to the limit for numbers due to injuries and suspension.
Next weekend the Bobcats travel to Lismore to take on last year's premiers, Workers.
The Bobcats had a resounding 5-1 win over Workers in the first round and will be hoping to put together a similar performance.