MATCH REPORT 1: Reserves
OUR SPONSOR: The Grove
MATCH REPORT 2: Firsts
STANDINGS: Medal, Boot
Balmain Rovers 4A Reserves v Balmain B Reserves
Birchgrove Park, Birchgrove
Sat 30 June 2001
Report by Ricky Onsman
Rovers Reserves had a lot to play for in this match. Three points would go a long way to ensuring a shot at the Finals. In the first round, their opponents had come back from 1-3 down to snatch a draw. And this was the team to which Rovers had originally been tied as a reserve team.
Hughes, Onsman and Nicholas were injured and Nkono remained an unexplained absentee, but Ian Ladkin, Phil Gray and - for the first time since breaking his leg pre-season - James Mackie were in the line-up. Johnny Barker was back in goal, with Firsts keeper Denis Jozic ready to come on when needed.
Ladkin and Gray formed a useful midfield behind Tekin, Smith, Millard and Ammon Mackie, and from the off showed that they were determined to win ball and make good use of it. The Rovers backline was less settled, with Browny marshalling the resources of Lachie Mackie, Dave Birds and Wrighty. As in the first round match, the Balmain B defence belted the ball forward at every opportunity, mostly via the potent boot of their large Scottish playmaker. Almost inevitably, the Rovers defence allowed one Balmain B forward too much room and he manufactured a cracking shot into the top right hand corner of Barker's net.
Not the ideal start - but there was time for Rovers to get their game together. Ladkin and Gray kept winning midfield ball and feeding it to the striking boots of Millard, Tekin and Ammon, while Paul Smith made some incisive moves down the left wing. At one stage Sam, looking more ferocious than usual with a convict escapee haircut, squandered a wide open approach to goal with a powerful, but unfortunately high, blast. It wasn't long, however before Ammon conjured a bit of Mackie magic, heading a wayward defensive return over the keeper's hands and onto the post before finishing it with a neat tap in. 1-1, and Rovers were definitely in it.
Rovers' biggest problem was in defence, where Browny was finding the knock he took in the KPMG match to be having a greater effect than anticipated. His usually reliable ability to collect the ball and clear it to an attacking player had turned into foot fumbles, one of which took place too near the Rovers goal - the ensuing goalmouth scramble caught a Rovers hand and Balmain B took the resulting penalty without mistake. Most of the play for the rest of the half was in the Balmain B defensive half, however, where Ladkin and Tekin were setting up Millard and Ammon for some unrewarded attacking moves. At half-time, Rovers were down 1-2.
Acting Manager James Mackie made one change, bringing Smith off for Johnny Barker to get a chance to show his speed at left wing, while Jozic went between the sticks. The big difference, though, was in the forward line. Millard and Ammon started to back themselves to beat the Balmain B defence, while Tekin kept taunting the boys in white with his angular runs through midfield. Within 15 minutes of the restart, Ammon had used his head again to great effect and Millard had smacked another past the opposing keeper. Suddenly, Rovers were up 3-2, and they realised that the game was theirs for the taking. Millard cracked another shot against the crossbar with such force that the entire goal frame shook and, determined not to let Ammon get too far in front of Golden Boot contention, went on winding runs from left to right, down the wing, through the middle and finally found his reward with another beauty to make it 4-2.
With most of the action in the Balmain B half, each of the Rovers defenders found opportunities to make significant contributions: Birds cutting off several dangerous moves, Lachie proving impassable on the right and Wrighty winning enough ball to make another of his surprise runs deep into Balmain B territory. Browny, meanwhile, won everything in the air and used his powerful throw-ins to great effect, constantly keeping Balmain B on the back foot, and finally finding the newly shiny head of Sam Tekin, who with a movement both graceful and powerful put the fifth Rovers goal past their frustrated keeper. It's a good thing it was Browny that fed him the ball, because Sam's leap into his arms would have crushed most other Rovers.
Almost immediately, Balmain B found a way to stab the ball past Jozic to make it 5-3, which was probably just the thing the Rovers needed to keep their minds on the job. James brought himself on for Phil and switched Millard to midfield, on the assumption that a striking position would require less running for a man recovering from a broken leg. However, Millard and the tireless Ladkin continued to win the midfield battle and fed the twin Mackie strike force with clever through balls. James looked dangerous every time he touched the ball, and finally the referee thought so too, yellow-carding the big fella on his Rovers debut! Somewhere in there, Paul Millard was also cautioned, possibly for trying an Aussie Rules-style leap over the hulking Scotsman. It was that same Scot who slammed a last shot into the Rovers goal - sadly for him, just seconds AFTER the referee blew the final whistle.
This was a resounding win, an important win and a deserved win for Rovers, where every player was called on to work hard for just reward.
While many players deserved at least a point, the Pele points go to:
2 - Paul Millard
2 - Ammon Mackie
1 - Ian Ladkin
1 - Sam Tekin
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Balmain Rovers 4A v Balmain B
Birchgrove Park, Birchgrove
Sat 30 June 2001
Report by Paul Edwards
After a good victory against Abbotsford backed up by a solid performance, it was important for Rovers to go out on Saturday and continue the good form. Admittedly, from the outset, it was quite obvious that Balmain B was not in the peak of physical fitness, nor were they fielding the youngest side ever seen. In fact, there was perhaps so much "experience" in the Balmain B side that Alan-you'll-never-win-with-kids-Hanson would have thoroughly reassessed his opinions (to those Balmain B players reading this who feel that they may fall under the banner of "experienced" I apologize for the cheap gag). Nevertheless, it was vital that Rovers went out with a positive attitude and a desire to play football.
Rovers' day was not without concern though. With Clem in rehabilitation, recuperating at the Barrington Tops groin clinic (with his personal massage therapist Amanda in tow), Glenn carrying a serious head injury (actually more of an alcohol induced ache) and Tim jetting back to Wales to have pre-season talks with FC Llandudno, Rovers were a few players short of being at full strength. This called for some serious management decisions by Serg. Gary was pulled back into defence, Nick "tell-me-what-to-do" Hopkins made his first appearance in centre midfield and Pier had a debut show up front. The decision to play this formation worked extremely well. From the outset, Pier made his presence felt and was particularly effective from set pieces, flicking on a number of long throws, a few of which were almost converted, mainly by the Bald Headed Master (BHM).
It was never a case of "if" a breakthrough would come but actually "when". And it finally did come in the form of young (relatively speaking) Andy Farmery who somehow found himself free in the box. The youngster sweetly struck a good pass from Serg and the keeper was easily beaten. 1-0. The second goal came a short while later from BHM. A ball played by the wee whippersnapper Farmery was left bouncing free in the centre circle. The loose ball was picked up and with no defence in sight was a case of whether the legs would carry, the lungs would hold up and the keeper could be beaten. Fortunately, all three were achieved.
But it wasn't just the scoreline that was impressive at that stage. The football was good too. Passing on the whole was of a high quality, and some of the moves were of a very good standard. Joey, Kon, Gary and Glenn held the back line well and the fact that the Rock rarely gets a Pele point is testament to a solid defence rather than anything else (let's face it, nobody would dare tell Denis he was playing badly even if he was). Nick in his new role in midfield, had a tough game against Balmain B's playmaker (or rather Balmain B's GMG - Genetically Modified Giant), but the fact that he never played a decisive pass or had a decent shot again speaks volumes. Half time: 2-0.
The second half was very similar to the first in terms of the general possession and overall pattern of play, and it was only a matter of time before the game was wrapped up. BHM's second goal and a long-range effort by Gary saw the game sealed. Ammon, coming on for Ally, scored his third goal of the day to make the game well and truly beyond doubt. Mikey came on for Pier and had an equally solid display up front, whilst BHM's glass ankles were again causing him grief which gave Smithy his first chance in the firsts for the season.
With just minutes left to play Balmain B scored a consolation goal and the final whistle saw Balmain victorious 5 goals to 1. An impressive performance which consolidates Rovers' position as top of the league. And with three games to go, it looks highly likely that enough has already been done to secure a place in the finals. But let's just continue to improve, open cans of whoop-ass on our opponents and enjoy playing.
The Pele points go to:
2 - Andy Farmery: A good display all round with a goal to seal a good day
1 - Nick Hopkins: difficult game to play against their playmaker but did very well
1 - Pier D'Angelo: played in a new position and adapted well, some good headed flicks
1 - Kon Tsalikis: Solid in the tackle, good passing and crossing
1 - Joey Nicotra: Good game at the back, made very few errors and was rarely troubled
Balmain Rovers v Five Dock
Callan Park, Rozelle
Sat 7 July 2001
Kick-off 1.15pm, 3pm
Balmain Rovers v Strathfield
Strathfield Park, Strathfield
Sat 14 July 2001
Kick-off 1.15pm, 3pm
11 - Craig Brown, Ammon Mackie
10 - Paul Edwards, Paul Millard
9 - Tim Hinds, Gary van Heugten
8 - Nick Hopkins
7 - Andy Farmery, Sam Tekin, Kon Tsalikis
6 - Emrys Hughes
5 - Ricky Onsman
4 - John Barker, Pier D'Angelo, Ian Ladkin, Donny Nicholas, Joey Nicotra
3 - Glenn Bacic, David Birds, Lachlan Mackie, David Wright
2 - Sergio Fiorenza, Ally Haining, Denis Jozic, Paul Smith
1 - Eddie Briggs, Matt Clementson, Sohail Dahdal, Carlos Morata
11 - Ammon Mackie
9 - Paul Edwards, Paul Millard
5 - Alister Haining, Gary van Heugten, Sam Tekin
3 - Sergio Fiorenza, Tim Hinds, Dorian Nkono
2 - Craig Brown, Andy Farmery, Nick Hopkins
1 - Eddie Briggs, Sohail Dahdal, Pier D'Angelo, Emrys Hughes, Carlos Morata, Joey Nicotra
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Newsletter content © 2001 Balmain Rovers
Tuesday 3 July 2001