Balmain Rovers 4A Reserves v Burwood B
Blair Park, Croydon
Sat 22 June 2002
Report by Mike Ward
It seemed seven days had allowed enough time for the Balmain 4A Reserves to process, digest and bury the upset loss to Concord the week previous. It was time to move on, move forward and perhaps to never speak of that game again.
We had 12 starters this week, but apparently you can only field 11, so after a few discussions Neil graciously took to the sideline for the first half. As we had no dedicated keeper on the day a quick whip around saw the purchase of a new pair of communal keeping gloves. It was then decided this may not be enough and someone should actually be wearing them on the field. It was to be Kelly who put his hand up and into the new gloves for the first half.
It was comforting to have a full set of officials this week, although one of the linesmen still looked to be a few years off puberty. The ref looked to make up for any shortcomings by threatening us all with red cards in his pre-match pep talk.
The first half saw Balmain completely dominate the midfield. Time and time again Adam B and Phil won the ball, maintained possession and supplied quality ball to our strikers. Luckily for them, the Burwood defence was a little more orginised than their midfield and played the offside rule successfully enough to give the kid running the line plenty of opportunities to wave his bright shiny flag.
Meanwhile, Richard was stamping his authority in defence, nipping any potential attack in the bud and Kelly in goal took ownership of any ball that (he he) entered the box with the confidence of a seasoned pro.
Against the run of play, Burwood managed to go one nil up, but this was short lived when a top ball through from Adam B found Sohail who calmly rounded the keeper and leveled the scores. The Burwood keeper managed to utilise a whole host of expletives to describe his defence which no doubt enhanced the definition of the beautiful game to the kiddies watching on the sideline.
More waves of attack saw Fergal finding heads with some perfectly weighted balls but none converted. This (he he) constant pressure in the box finally ensured a handball from a panicking Burwood defence and saw Darren ("Iíll take it") Lynn step up to take the penalty and send us to half time 2-1 up.
The general feeling at the half time break was that we had this one in the bag and collectively entertained visions of lifting the cup, whilst standing on a podium surrounded by blond babes in champagne-drenched T-shirts. We counted a few more chickens then returned to the field with Kelly taking up the central defence and Richard donning the new but now slightly clammy keeping gloves.
Burwood, on the other hand had been making a few positional changes. Their
striker, who had been very vocal towards his own midfield, (whilst looking like a dork with his Beckham hair style) dropped back to left mid to put his foot where his mouth was.
The first 15 minutes proved that this move seemed to add some cohesion to their midfield and changed the dynamics of their attack.
Dare I say it? This was shaping up to be a game of two halves.
It was at this time Sohail stepped off the field after a solid performance and a goal in his pocket to allow Neil to slot into left mid with Jared swapping over to the right. Neilís mere presence is enough to settle any team and he soon made an impact by taking the ball down the left and punching in a crisp pass to Darren L on the edge of the box who controlled, had a look, waited and executed a beautifully timed goal past the outstretched keeper.
Burwood looked gone at 3-1, but they dug deep. They came at us and they came at us hard. There were some bruising encounters in our defence, particularly from John, who defused the attack many times with a combination of clever defending and bone crunching tackles. Kelly stood firm in the centre, Adam F locked up the right flank and gave them very few options and Mike W on the left ... well, I didnít really notice what he was doing.
Corners were conceded with more frequency as more attacks came. Richard in goal made some great clearances as we repelled again and again. Then the guy with the Beckham mohawk came up and took a great corner, which floated menacingly in to the box where two strikers charged in and leaped AFL-style, collecting Richard and an assortment of defenders. Amid the carnage that lay at the back of the net was the ball and we were now looking at just a one-goal lead.
At 3-2, I found myself looking to the sky in dismay thinking they must be getting help from above. And I think they were. Right above us was a skywriter spelling out the letters BOSE. Hi-Fi gear? I think not. Obviously, Burwood were not too good at maths, and knowing this their coach (or their God) had sent them a message in the form of an acronym that must have stood for: Burwood, One Score to Equalise.
They seemed to take this message on board because equalise they did with their striker slotting it from point blank range as a deflection fell to his feet soon after. We needed to hit back but time was against us and before we knew it the ref was making his last overtly animated gesture of the match by calling full time.
Well, once again we managed to control the direction of play and secure a high percentage of the possession and still not come away with the full quota of points. The post match post mortem revealed a few areas we need to work towards and a general optimism that we will be back to our winning ways sooner rather than later.
Hard luck guys, weíve got the team, let's use it
The Pele points go to:
3 - John - Gutsy and smart defending
1 - Kelly - As confident with the hands as he is with his feet
1 - Adam B - Deft
1 - Darren L - That goal was sweeet maaate!