Balmain Rovers v Enfield A: Henley Park, Enfield: Sat 13 May 2006
Match report by Paul Wright
So it was on the 13th May that Balmain Rovers (1 win, 2 draws, 2 losses) fronted up to Enfield A (4 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses) at Henly Park, Enfield. An away tie against the runaway league leaders brimming with confidence. With such a tough tie ahead of us the team was also going to have to adjust to a revamped lineup with news that Ricky, our starting centre back, was out due to what I can only assume was a late call up into the Dutch World Cup squad. Added to that, Dan, coming off a strong performance the previous week had failed a late fitness test by the team physios and medical staff. Into the backline stepped Gavin to reoccupy the centre back role he occupied to great effect last year, and would be joined by the increasingly impressive Justan taking over at left back.
The game started nervously, Balmain perhaps giving too much respect to the opposition's record this season. However after a few early long range efforts from Enfield, Balmain started to get into the game. Early on Ismet was put through against the keeper who came out quickly to deny him, and moments later Ere cut across the right hand side of the penalty area, his pace creating a good opening but his shot lacked power and the keeper was down well to smother the effort.
Enfield were struggling to make any impression in the final third of the pitch due to a composed defensive performance - Justan's speed and tenacity neutralised an otherwise skillful and dangerous winger, and Allan came inside several times to put his body on the line to clear dangerous through balls. Jason was clearly winning the aerial battle and Gavin added the extra bite required any time a dangerous ball came through the middle. Following a dangerous Balmain corner, Paul ran across to get onto the loose ball and was promptly dispatched into the turf by what seemed like a wayward heavy vehicle. Typifying his gritty captain's performance, Barry was heard to ask "Are you alright, do you want to be subbed?" and after the reply of "No, I'll be right", the man picking his eyeballs and a few teeth up from the pitch was told in no uncertain terms to "Get fookin back then!"
Halftime nil-nil, and we all felt the game was there for the taking. A reworking of our subbing strategy saw our wing play come to life, Dave and Matt getting up and back the pitch relentlessly and, along with the fullback, nulifying the threat down the wings. After a nice turn from Akin and some interplay with Barry and Paul, Brendan shrugged off his man to play a sweeping crossfield pass of sublime vision. Dave collected the ball, had time to look and delivered it to Barry, who - giving himself a bit of room - stroked the ball left-footed into the bottom corner. One-nil Rovers, and the home team looked stunned.
Defence kicked in and Serdar and Brendan began to dominate the high balls and added some much-needed composure to the game. Playing with a five man midfield we were camped in our own half a bit but, as every forward should, Ismet was chasing every lost cause and got his reward late on when Enfield's amply proportion keeper mistimed a routine clearance. Before he could turn his titanic girth, Ismet pounced and - despite the keeper's push that would have delivered a penalty anyway - bundled the ball in.
So, a famous win and suddenly Balmain Rovers are beginning to look like a team able to challenge for the title.
Full time score Rovers 2 - Enfield A 0
Goals: Barry, Ismet
Pele Points: 3 to Justan (another assured performance from a player who is getting better by the week - throw-ins not included!), 1 each to Allan (like his counterpart on the opposite full back slot, put his body on the line and helped shut out a team full of goals), Ismet (chased all day and got a reward for his continual effort with a goal out of nothing) and Gavin (stepped into the backline against the top team and didn't disappoint)