Balmain Rovers v Hurlstone Park: Callan Park, Rozelle: Sat 24 June 2006
Match report by Ricky Onsman, points by Serdar Celik
Another critical match for Rovers. Hurlstone Park provided some stiff opposition in the first round, and this time they would be playing to keep themslves in finals contention. Rovers on the other hand had the unsettling task of trying to cement a place in the top two while teams behind them have games in hand. Must-win for everybody concerned.
First off, the toss. In what is becoming typical Rovers style, Captain Bazza won the toss, consulted with his goalkeepr and elected to start with the sun at our backs, meaning we'd be finish playing into a blinding low winter sun. Can't beat local knowledge, eh?
The first half quickly settled into a tussle for control of the midfield. For once, Rovers' traditional slow start didn't affect us too badly. The backline knuckled down, with Ricky tagging the big Scottish dangerman, Allan and Justan covering the defensive flanks and Jason picking off anything that did get through. But it was the midfield that took control, with Gavin, Barry, Paul and Brendan rotating the posession role and setting up the wide men Ere and David to push forward in support of Serdar and Ismet. Almost all the first half chances were Balmain's, with the twin Turks constantly troubling the Hurlstone defence. No actual score though, so 0-0 at the break.
Hurlstone Park were a bit more determined in the second stanza and were not afraid to get physical. What is this weird attraction other teams have for jumping on Couttsy's back? The young ref insisted he couldn't penalise what he couldn't see, but evryone else could see it clearly enough. Still, by pushing forward Hurlstone Park necessarily exposed a scratchy defence in the process. It was only about five minutes in that yet another phase of short passing saw Serdar push through the middle and poke the ball gently past the opposition goalkeeper to put Rovers on the score sheet. Everything looked pretty stable, but then the fragility of the Rovers set-up was exposed. Ricky took a knock to the thigh that required him to come off. Gavin dropped deep and Balmain was suddenly playing a flat back four, with no-one chasing Jock around the park. He duly set up a couple of chances for himself and others and the Hurlstone Park players seemed to lift somewhat.
After a couple of skilful capture/keep/dispose moves in midfield Brendan was rewarded with one more back-jump and took a turn on the bench. Ricky came on to re-engage his Caldeonian opponent and Gavin pushed back up into the midfield. Order was restored, and it wasn't long before Barry had a run through the inside left channel where opponents seem to turn away from him. You don't have to invite Baz to the party more than once - his run ended in a clinically efficient finish that found the ball in the back of the Hurlstone net again.
A couple more desperate efforts by the opposition, one or two of Amir's trademark airborne saves, and the affair was settled. On the whole, a pretty cool performance by the Balmain boys. The opposition suggested it was good enough to firm up the prospect of an Enfield A/Balmain Rovers Grand Final, but Concord A may have something to say about that. Full time score Rovers 2 - Hurlstone Park 0.
Goals: Serdar, Barry
Pele Points: 1 - Amir Hatami, Ricky Onsman, Gavin Carey, Brendan Coutts, Barry Scott, Serdar Celik