Enfield A v Balmain Rovers: Rudd Park, Belfield: Sat 26 August 2006
Match report by Matt Mahony
Balmain Rover All Age 8ís season was extended with a top four position. Balmain would have to do it tough to make the Grand Final. After knocking over Enfield B in the Minor Semi Final and then the next week bringing home a fantastic Preliminary Final win over Concord A, it was off to the Grand Final, Balmain Rover vs Enfield A. Both sides had a win apiece in the season, but Enfield have been the dominant side throughout the All Age 8 division this season. This last game of the season was going to go down to the wire.
The atmosphere was tense as both sides met out at the centre of the pitch to do the usual shaking of hands and the toss of the coin. Barry, our captain, won the toss and decided to run with the wind in the first half.
At the blow of the whistle it was game on, both sides came out with all guns blazing. Serdar and Ismet were on to every loose ball that came their way, with Akin, Paul, Barry, and Deadly Dave in the mid field to act as the first line of defence and to try and turn around the attack. The backline was ready to stop any attacking raid penetrating; the back line was Dan, Gav, Ricky, Jason and Amir. There was some great end to end football being played by both sides. Balmain though seemed to have the edge over Enfield after 15mins into the game. At about the 20 minute mark Balmain was rewarded with a free kick just out side the 18 yard box. It was Dan to take this free kick; Dan has a deadly left boot when put to the test. As Dan lined up the kick and Balmain jostled for position and Enfield were guarding the goal mouth like a secret shrine, Dan shot the ball in to the goal area. Everyone scrambled for the ball, but it was Deadly Dave to put the ball in the back of the net to put Balmain in the lead 1-0.
Both sides where using the interchange bench as best they could. Allan went on for Jason at around the 25th minute, Matt went on for Dave about 5 minutes later. It was a physical and mental game. Enfield had a few wild shots at goal but nothing looked like going in. Amir seemed to have things under control. With about ten minutes remaining for the first half and some more bench inter-changes, it was Barry the captain who put another goal in. 2-0 Balmains way. Could this be Balmain's Grand final? The supporters from both camps were rallying behind their sides. With another couple of minutes remaining, Enfield seemed to be in a vocal war between themselves. The whistle blew and it was the end of the first half.
The second half started just as physical as the first half, Enfield had the wind behind them and they would use it to their advantage. Enfield have some power kickers if given enough space to move. After 20 minutes of play in the second half and some sloppy play at times from both sides, Enfield was rewarded with a free kick about 30 yards out from Balmain's goal. The free kick was taken and the ball moved through the air like it was being guided by some remote control. It split through the players at head height. I donít know if Amir saw the ball but it seemed as if he didnít move at all. Enfield was on their way back, they were back in the game. This goal lifted Enfield, it was like they changed to another gear, their inter-change bench working like a revolving door. Enfield was starting to build a come-home-strong. Balmain just needed to hold on as the clock ticked down. You could hear Ricky revving up the troops, "come on guys, this is Balmain's championship!!"
After a few more counter attacks from both sides it was Enfield who was to bring home the game in the dying moments. With 3 minutes to go, Enfield pounced on a loose ball and kicked it over Balmain's back line. An Enfield player ran through to regain possession and shot for goal on the fly. This caught Amir out and it was now 2-2 at full time. Down to extra time, 10 minutes each way.
After a small break and a few words amongst the teams it was back out there to decide who was going to bring it home. The first 10 minutes started out fast, with a few stray shots from both sides. With a couple of minutes remaining Enfield got a break and was on the charge. Both Gav and Amir challenged the Enfield player for the ball, all three players were sent flying, the referee called a penalty and Amir was sent off for handballing outside his area. This was a major blow for Balmain. Ricky volunteered to go in goals. Balmain was down to ten men within the first 10 minutes of extra time. The referee called time, both sides changed ends. Again both side were challenging each other. Was this going to go to a penalty shoot out?
There were more inter-changes made, but again another stray ball popped up and an Enfield player put into the back of the net. Balmain's heads were hung low on the way back to the middle of the pitch to kick off. There was only enough time to kick off before the referee blew the whistle to signal full time. It was all over. Enfield had taken out the All Age 8ís Grand Final for 2006. Full time Rovers 2 - Enfield A 3.
Goals: Dave Hanna, Barry Scott
Pele Points: Deadly Dave Hanna, Dan Higson 2, Ricky Onsman, Barry Scott 1