Balmain Rovers 4A Reserves v Enfield Reserves
Henley Park, Enfield
Sat 11 May 2002
Report by Darren Taylor
After last week's good (but not enjoyable) win we had a game against the team who were top of the table and who had beaten our sole conquerors 5-3. It was important to get a result from this game to keep pace with the leaders.
The Rovers team lined up with Michael Arthur in goal. The backline consisted of Neil O'Donnell at left back, John Pereira at right back and a centre pairing of Kelly Baigent and Richard Lyne. Midfield was made up of Phil Davis and Adam Brzozowski in the centre with Darren Taylor and Jared Carter providing plenty of pace on the wings. Up front were Fergal Murphy and Darren Lynn.
Sohail Dahdal and Adam Freeman made up the substitutes while Mike Badman, out with an injured ankle, provided plenty of support with the 'Snake'.
The game plan was to start out defensively as it was rumoured that the opposition could attack very effectively, so Fergal started as an attacking midfielder with Phil marking their danger man in midfield. The game plan went sweetly for the first 20 minutes during which the game was very evenly balanced. The first attack of the game was to see Darren L hit the bar with a looping header. This increased the confidence of Balmain who had started out probably showing Enfield a little to much respect The game ebbed and flowed from end to end, a cracking game with good passing, committed but clean tackles and a good deal of scoring opportunities. This reporter has to admit that he missed two chances that he should have put away, which would have given Balmain the lead they deserved for their dogged play. The centre of midfield was a battleground with Adam and Phil handling everything that Enfield could throw at them, with the superb assistance of Fergal who was everywhere.
Then disaster struck when a ball that should have been cleared from the left found its way into our box. Their striker pounced on it and with no other option Richard took him down. Up stepped their big man (who was certainly bigger than our big man) to take the kick. He blasted it in, with Michael very unlucky not to tip it over the bar.
Game on. Could we lift our heads to come fighting back? Yes we could, and I think the last 10 minutes of the first half was all Balmain. We continued to hassle and harry in midfield, the defence let nothing through and up front the boys were fighting for every ball. Finally we got the breakthrough. Fergal chased down a long ball played from midfield, beat one defender and rounded the keeper who had pushed him out wide left. We all thought the chance had gone until Fergal pulled an amazing ball back from the sideline for Darren L to tap in. It was no more than we deserved because we had given as good as we got in the first half - if not more.
The second half started with no changes on the Balmain team. It also started off in the same pattern, with Balmain playing the better football and creating the better opportunities. The first half performances of both teams seemed to have taken its toll as the pace eased and a few more mistakes started to creep into play. The wind also seemed to pick up in favour of Enfield.
Then - praise be - we took the lead, thanks to a well-worked goal. John works the ball out of the right side of defence and gives it to Jared, who rounds two of their midfielders before playing a peach of a ball in to Fergal in the box who still had a lot to do. It was a super cool finish with the inside of the boot to give us the lead.
However that seemed to spur Enfield on who came back at us with everything. Sohail came on for the injured Darren T and immediately got stuck into the action. A long ball was played up the middle of the Balmain defence only for it to hang in the wind and let one of their forwards in who gave Michael no chance with a good finish. So all even again with twenty minutes left to play.
Then disaster struck (again) when another penalty was awarded against us. At the time no-one knew what it is was for, but later on in the pub we found out that John 'may' have held on to the attacking player. So up stepped the same big man (who was still bigger than our big man) to smack the ball - but this time Michael 'Schmeichel' Arthur was equal to the task, just getting a finger to the ball to push it onto the crossbar. The ball broke out and was played back in only for the same player to smash it against the bar again. Surely the gods were shining on us. Balmain was lucky. The game continued on with Adam F coming on for the injured Darren L who had hassled and harried Enfield all day.
Then, with 10 minutes left on the clock, a simple tackle by Sohail on the edge of Balmain's box was punished by the referee. Up stepped their centre back to unleash an unstoppable shot that flew into the top corner. A great free kick that would grace any game. Balmain refused to give up the game. To lose it would have been an unfair result. With two minutes left, Balmain pushed their big men forward in search of an equaliser. Richard got the ball on the half-way line and rounded two players before laying a beautiful ball on to Sohail, who was on his weaker side. Sohail produced an amazing cross that found Fergal at the back post to nod in the equaliser. A cracking goal to bring us back on level terms. Enfield were deflated. As soon as they tipped off the ref blew the final whistle.
All round, an outstanding team performance got us a result against a good team. Everybody played their part in a great game of football. The hammering we got at the hands of Balmain B well and truly vanished. It was probably the best thing to happen to us at that stage. Bring them on again and we will see what will happen. If we can perform like this in every other game it will be hard to beat us.
The Pele points go to:
2 - Phil Davis - another outstanding performance from Phil, who nullified
their danger men and used the ball intelligently. If my memory serves me
right I think he delayed his wedding anniversary celebrations to help us.
What a game - what a man.
2 - Fergal Murphy - more great running and unselfish play from Fergal. A
powerhouse of a performance.
1 - Richard Lyne - for not 'staring at the ground' and assuming a managerial
role right from the start of the game
1 - Michael 'Schmeichel' Arthur - that index finger deserves a point for keeping us in the game at a crucial time