Balmain Rovers 4A Reserves v Burwood B Reserves
Blair Park, Croydon
Sat 13 April 2002
Report by John Pereira
The first half was a difficult one for the Thirds, especially for the backline, required to neutralise two very physical Burwood forwards well supported by an energetic and attacking midfield. The defence appeared to be under continuous pressure and was unable to move the ball up to the forward line. Both Adam Freeman and Kelly Baigent did well in stopping some menacing runs down both wings.
Continued pressure by Darren Taylor (hungover again) on the left wing and some great runs by the terrier-like Neil O'Donnell led to the first goal of the afternoon when in the 30th minute, and slightly against the run of play, Darren Lynn edged the ball past the keeper.
Burwood however did not give up. They kept up their long passes to the forwards and in a good counter attack equalised two minutes before half time. The 1-1 half time score didn't reflect the dominance of Burwood, who would later rue their missed opportunities. It did however reward Rovers for taking the opportunities given to them.
A half time team talk and some reorganisation took place, and in line with squad rotation policy (and not a reflection of their play) Kelly and Joey Nicotra were replaced by Sohail Dahdal and Fergal Murphy. Sohail moved into Kelly's backline spot and Fergal played up front alongside Darren. Jared took over Joey's position in right midfield.
The second half began much as the first had ended: a "right royal battle" in midfield, where the Rovers controlled the ball better but Burwood resorted to long passes to get themselves out of trouble.
After 10 minutes, a further reorganisation took place with Mike Badman coming on for Taylor who had suffered a groin injury (probably due to too much groin activity the night before). Mike took Neil's place in the centre of midfield, and the versatile O'Donnell dropped back to left fullback, allowing the speedster named Sohail to launch his flying attacks down the left.
Neil continued his good work and eliminated many a threat down the left side. Badman, Brzozowski and Carter began to dominate what was fast turning into a bruising encounter in the midfield, not only attacking the ball well but also providing much needed support in defence, where once again the Richard "the Lyne King" controlled the backline extremely well. The physical Burwood forwards were tamed by the aggression of John Pereira, enjoying the physical nature of the challenge (particulary against a real PRICK of a number 10).
The game was dramatically changed by three main factors: the blinding runs by Jared Carter taking the ball from midfield into attack, Fergal's blistering speed down the right side (a pleasure to watch), and Adam B's stunning goal (showing some very skillful footwork and precision), which brought the game to 2-1 at the 75 minute mark.
With Jared flying down the right, Sohail speeding down the left and Adam and Michael in the middle feeding both forwards, the Rovers Thirds were back playing attractive football once more and the game was there for the winning.
Darren Lynn and Fergal both made great runs and had some great shots at goal which lead to Jared (deservedly) scoring the Rovers third and Michael Badman knocking in his first for the season.
In the end the Rovers cruised over the finishing line but it had not been easy against a well disciplined and physical side who will do well this season. It was a test of the resolve of the Thirds which, after a decidedly shaky start, was passed with flying colours.
The Pele points go to:
1 - Jared Carter, great control of the ball (better than Beckham)
1 - Fergal Murphy, blistering speed and precision, (the Thirds version
of Ryan Giggs)
1 - Adam Brzozowski, a very important and skillful goal (the coolness of
1 - Richard Lyne, keeping the backline under control (Tony Adams eat your
1 - Neil O'Donnell, the bull terrier (more commitment than Paul Scholes)
1 - Darren Taylor, for being the only person in NSW to drink "Tooheys Old" (better crosses than Robert Pires)