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Newsletter - Tuesday 23 April 2002 beerbeer

This newsletter is published by Balmain Rovers,
part of the Balmain & District Soccer Club.
The Annandale Hotel is the major sponsor of Balmain Rovers.

Match Report 1
 
Balmain Rovers 4A Reserves v Earlwood Reserves
Hughes Park, Earlwood
Sat 20 April 2002
Kick-off 1.15pm
Report by Richard Lyne

Even before kick off on Saturday I had a feeling it was going to be one of those games, I just hoped Thirds could get through it unscathed. On the Thursday before the game we had too many players, but by Saturday morning we only had 13 and this included our star striker (who would not be turning up until half time) and the dynamic Mr Pereira (who would be leaving at half time to attend a wedding - what kind of an excuse is that?). Our keeper had damaged his back and was unable to play. Our second centre half was claiming to be unwell (the big girls blouse) and the mystery man named Jeremy was apparently getting married, perhaps that was the wedding John was attending?

On arrival at the ground we found our star striker in attendance and keen to play, if only for the second half, This was the best news all day. Problems then presented themselves: Hughes Park was a difficult ground to find and the players, when they found it, had all forgotten their socks - unusual but true.

The referee added to the dilemma in the pre-match briefing when she asked to have my card for the remainder of the match! Had she not noticed the wedding ring? Didn't she realise my home number was NOT on the card? For the good of the team I decided that I would let her down gently AFTER the match, she was young, inexperienced and I did look fetching in my red shorts!

Well, the game kicked off and unusually for Thirds we started playing football. It normally takes a good 15 minutes before we realise the game is on. Playing against 10 men we immediately went into attack and within a minute Sohail was clean through with an open net ... how the defender cleared it off the line I will never know, but he did.

10 men changed into 11 and the game was level in all respects, but not for long! Earlwood had a couple of decent young players who were fast and fit and played aggressively up front (How glad was I to be on the sidelines? No comment). The defence of Adam F, Kelly B, John P and Neil O would have their work cut out today.

After 15 minutes of sustained pressure Earlwood was granted a corner, a dubious decision but still a decision. The practice on Wednesday evening would come in useful, surely? It did: we had two men on the posts and had even marked a couple of their forwards - but unfortunately not the one that scored! For the first time in season 2002 - the premiere season of this ragamuffin team - Thirds were behind! Would this be the end of the road? Would the wheels come off the bandwagon?

Surprisingly, they didnít and this reflects the team spirit that Thirds has built. Heads didnít drop and instead a spirit that we would not lose arose.

Neil the terrier decided the big number 5 was going to leave the pitch knowing he had been in a game and John P put equally strong challenges in. What a defensive pair! The big girls blouse may find it difficult to split such a pairing! Adam B and Phil begin to find each other in midfield and the stage was set for the Thirds' traditional romp to victory.

Unfortunately, somebody forgot to tell the forwards that we had woken up and had kicked off. Fergal was put clean through by Darren T and missed. He then had an open net from 6 yards out and went for 3 points!

Realising the forwards would need to be shown where the net was, Darren T obliged and scored our opener. We were back in business. Having been shown where the goal was, Fergal soon showed what a fast learner he was and scored two in rapid succession. From 0-1 down we had recovered to 3-1 in a matter of minutes.

Earlwood was shell-shocked. Their backline was unable to cope with the pace of Sohail and Fergal which, coupled with the quality of the balls being supplied from Adam, Phil and Darren T, was causing them real problems. Their response was to pull their big number 5 into defence to cope with the pace. Neil's frustration at having his challenge removed was clear for all to see! For a time this worked and, save for a second Darren T goal, we didn't score again in the first half. At half time the score was 4-2.

Mike B was having a decent run as reserve keeper but his goal kicks left something to be desired. At one point John P had to point out that passing the ball to their forward was not the preferred option. Like the rest of the team he only needed telling once.

At half time we rearranged the back line due to Johnís departure. Joey would slot in at left back and Kelly would move into the middle. Joeyís sole job was to man-mark their number 15, who was causing problems due to his pace. As expected, Earlwood came on strong at the beginning of the second half and quickly grabbed a goal back. Once again, the game was on.

Thirds however rise to a challenge and Saturday was no exception. Fergal scored a tremendous volley to mark his hat-trick and then got a fourth. Despite the 6-3 scoreline, the game still felt close. Earlwood seemed to play in fits and starts but when they did play they always looked dangerous. After 25 minutes of the second half and after much abuse from Darren L (Fergal was scoring too many goals and was Thirds' leading scorer now!), our former star striker was brought on. Not wanting to rearrange the defence or midfield again, Sohail made way for Darren.

Darren too appeared to have forgotten where the net was. He was put clean through on the keeper with acres of time and space to ... gently pass the ball to the keeper who gratefully dropped like a sack of spuds at Darrenís feet.

Darren L had obviously not been on the pitch when Darren T had given the forwards the lesson on where the goal was. This lesson was promptly repeated for his benefit by a combination of Jared and Phil. Jaredís thunderous shot bounced off Philís back (as he desperately dived out of the way) and ended up in the back of the net. To be fair, Darren learned the lesson well and scored with a beautiful lob over the keeper.

The game ended 8-4 and Thirds' winning streak continues. Lessons have been learned throughout the team and a further small step was taken. When you consider that this is only our third real game together, I think to have put three wins together is a huge achievement and reflects well on each and every member of the squad. WELL DONE THIRDS.

As for me, the referee didnít ask for my number. Perhaps she had seen the ring after all.

The Pele points go to:

1 - Fergal
1 - Darren T
1 - Neil
1 - John
1 - Adam B
1 - Phil

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The Annandale Hotel

17-19 Parramatta Rd, Annandale
Ph 9550 1078

Our mates Dan and Matt Rule have bought out their previous partner and are intent on reshaping the Annandale as one of Sydney's great pubs, starting by getting rid of the poker machines and boosting the live music. We urge you to support them, as they support us.

The Nosh Pit restaurant is one of the area's best assets, serving high quality modern Australian cuisine at prices that won't bust a Rover's budget. Manager Drew Simmons makes seasonal menu changes to reflect the availability of the best produce and offers special deals on a regular basis. If you eat out, eat at the Nosh Pit.

For a full rundown of weekly activities click on the image below -

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Match Report 2
 
Balmain Rovers 3B Reserves v Lakemba Reserves
Campbell Park, Chiswick
Sat 20 April 2002
Kick-off 1.15pm
Report by Paul McDonnell

The dangers of turning up early for your game were borne out by this (part-time) reporter and (full-time) footballer being asked to write the match report for the Reserves. As per usual it had been a drizzly, overcast preceding four days, but Saturday was another scorcher. Balmain lined up with a very strong team. Johnny "The Cat" Barker in goal. Mikee "Bite your legs off" Sommers, Donny "Catch the Pigeon" Nicholas, Ricky "Chopper" Onsman and Brian "Leftie" Yeung in the backline. Pier "Beverly" D'Angelo, James "Goal a game" Mackie, Ally "Where's me boots?" Haining and newcomer Bruce "Shins" Fackerell were in midfield. And up front the young legs of Ben "Top Scorer" Jones combined with the steely instincts of Rob "Where's me Cider?" Liney, making his first start of the season after undergoing alcohol detox in Fiji.

The opposition deployed a "less is more" strategy in their line up, playing with only nine men for the most of the game, and eight men briefly when their keeper was injured. Perhaps it was the nicknames, or maybe it was Scotsman Ally Haining's penchant for Davie Cooper-esque runs down the left flank combining very neatly with the sweet left foot of Brian Yeung, but it was soon apparent that this was going to be an easy one for Balmain. The only questions were how many could we score, and would there be enough beer back at the Annandale for everyone if Rob fell off the wagon again.

Soon into the game, Mackie and D'Angelo were combining well through the middle, opening up gaps in the Lakemba defence for Liney and Jones to exploit, and after a couple of near misses, Liney got onto the score sheet with some clinical finishing. Mackie then bulldozed his way through to slot in a second, and it was clear that this was going to become a rout. After a farcical goal mouth scramble, Mikee Sommers demonstrated that his time at centre back has lost him none of his striker's instinct with a toe poke into the bottom left. Onsman's frustration at the back resulted in a yellow card being produced for what one can only call malicious tackling. Thank heavens his family weren't there to witness it. Rob then scored another just on the stroke of half time.

The second half was more of the same. Bruce, whose tireless running and bone crunching tackles had caused endless headaches for the Lakemba midfield - but had also left him shattered - came off and Emrys came on. Straight away his passes and presence of mind were opening up more holes in the Lakemba backline, and reward came swiftly when Rovers were awarded a penalty. Pier despatched it swiftly leaving the keeper with no opportunity. Soon after, another through ball put Liney through and he calmly completed his hat-trick. Haining then departed the scene, having overseen the destruction of yet another side - his work done for the day - and Jon Drea came on for his third game of the season. His infectious running lifted the team again with both Jones and Emrys coming close to scoring before (yawn!) Rob scored again. James then shot a piledriver from the edge of the box that made it 8-0. Any attacks that Lakemba mounted were being dealt with very calmly by the well marshalled Balmain defence. Mikee and Ricky were hitting anything that moved in the air, while Donny and Brian were the epitome of cool, mopping up at the back and playing Hoddle-esque passes enabling their team-mates to push forward at will. The last 15 minutes were played at an easy pace, with Balmain continuing in the ascendancy. Rob (snore!) scored two more to bring his personal tally to six for the game, and James completed his hat-trick to bring the grand total to 11.

The Pele points go to:

1 - Donny. Smart play at the back
1 - Brian. Up and down the line combining well with Ally
1 - Ally. Did as a captain should and never stopped running
1 - Pier. Engine room of the team
1 - Rob. Scored (coma-time) a double hat-trick
1 - Mikee. Excellent defending and appeared from nowhere to score

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Match Report 3
 
Balmain Rovers 3B Firsts v Abbotsford
Campbell Park, Chiswick
Sat 20 April 2002
Kick-off 3pm
Report by Andy Farmery

Two games into the season with a bagful of goals and none conceded, I think it is fair to say that the Rovers were feeling 'quietly confident' that we would be able to handle last season's nemesis from a Grand Final remembered more for the atrocious conditions than any football played on the day.

There was a general consensus that this would be our first real test for the season, despite the fact that Abbotsford were now only able to field one team. One of the most noticeable differences was that the only Irish accents to be heard were coming from Balmain and not the opposition.

Injuries had taken their toll and the Balmain starting line-up was a little different than usual and we expected to take a while to get used to the new arrangements. The first few minutes of the game saw Balmain with most of the play and looking the better side. This was confirmed when Dave Hynd got a ball through to Dean who imperiously volleyed past the Abbotsford keeper to put Rovers one up.

This seemed to spark Abbotsford into action and Balmain were subjected to the greatest pressure we have been under this season. The park was quite large and the Abbotsford players used their speed to good advantage. The Balmain defence looked more vulnerable than usual and was saved on several occasions by stand-in keeper Ben Jones. I must say Ben looked more like a rabbit-in-the-spotlight than a keeper at times, but he kept a clean sheet and you can't ask more than that.

Balmain were unable to capitalise on the superior possesion they had and could not seem to find the final ball to release Dean and Nick. We finished the half one up ... and surprisingly Eddie seemed a little frustrated, which is unusual for him.

Again in the second half Balmain had most of the possesion and managed to get several one-on-one chances which the Abbotsford keeper did well to keep out. The lack of a second goal was increasing the pressure (on and off the field). A few rash tackles started coming in from both sides which was made worse by the fact that the referee was unwilling to blow the whistle within 10 seconds of any infringement occurring.

Abbotsford seemed less threatening in this half and so the Balmain defence decided to give them an indirect free-kick inside the box ... just to make them feel like they had a chance. Fortunately, they spurned the opportunity.

Shortly afterwards, Abbotsford were reduced to ten men, due to an injury and a lack of substitutes. This allowed Rovers to take control and it seemed just a matter of time until another goal arrived ... it arrived with the last kick of the game from the boot of Dean Da Silva, another excellently taken opportunity.

You have to say that on the day Balmain were not pretty, but we did enough to win and sometimes that is all you can do.

The Pele points go to:

2 - Dean da Silva - One for each goal
1 - Paul Edwards - His usual captain's performance
1 - Kon Tsalikis       - Staying
1 - Paul McDonnell   - (relatively) calm
1 - Nik Hopkins        - under pressure

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Award Standings

Pele Medal

4 - Dean Da Silva, Ben Jones, James Mackie, Fergal Murphy
3 - Jared Carter, Paul Edwards, Alister Haining, David Hynd
2 - Adam Brzozowski, Pier D'Angelo, Nik Hopkins, Darren Lynn, Neil O'Donnell, Michael Sommers, Darren Taylor
1 - Craig Brown, Matt Clementson, Phil Davis, Rob Liney, Richard Lyne, Ammon Mackie, Paul McDonnell, Paul Millard, Donny Nicholas, John Pereira, Kon Tsalikis, Brian Yeung

Golden Boot

6 - Rob Liney, Fergal Murphy
5 - Darren Lynn, James Mackie
4 - Dean Da Silva, Ben Jones, Ammon Mackie
3 - Jared Carter, Alister Haining
2 - Nick Agafonoff, Pier D'Angelo, Paul Millard, Darren Taylor
1 - Michael Badman, Mark Bamford, Adam Brzozowski, Sohail Dahdal, Paul Edwards, David Hynd, Patrick Nolan, Michael Sommers

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Fixtures

Saturday 27 April:

TBA

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Newsletter content © 2002 Balmain Rovers

Tuesday 23 April 2002