Balmain Rovers v Enfield A: Callan Park, Rozelle: Sat 15 July 2006
Match report by Brendan Coutts
Our final game at Callan Park for the season was the much anticipated return match against Enfield A - the competition’s clear leader. We’d beaten them earlier in the year when we played them off the park and entered a rich vein of form that saw us climb up the table towards our rightful spot. Recently though, this form has been tapering, and with the disastrous loss of Justan adding to our list of injuries to crucial players, we went into this game a bit short handed. Nevertheless, the spirit in this side is strong - as evidenced by Dan and Amir rearranging their other commitments to be there, and Ricky playing with a broken bone in his foot.
Unlike our usual starts, we were switched on from the initial kick off. Gavin in particular as a holding midfielder was severing Enfield attacks before they got going and redistributing the ball. For the first twenty minutes he was dominant and Balmain controlled the game. After a build up down the left side, the ball found its way to him just outside a crowded penalty area. Showing great composure he carefully picked his spot and chipped into the top left corner - a lovely finish, and one that he had predicted during the warm up. Balmain deservedly led 1-0.
But from there things began to change. With Gavin straining a quad, the quick and skilled Enfield midfield began to find a lot of space in our half. We defended well, but Enfield showed they were dangerous even if they couldn’t penetrate our area with a cracking shot from about 30 yards that gave Amir no chance. 1-1.
We were rattled and Enfield took control, and soon after scored another - again from range with a great shot. We were down 2-1, and we were being outplayed.
Towards the end of the half we settled again, and began to play more our game. We controlled the ball, looked up and found good options. Barry was getting plenty of ball and we worked our way back into the game. After one atrocious ‘dive’, Serdar did get fouled and brought down in the area and on the stroke of half time we had a penalty and the chance to go in level. No-one was keen to take the penalty, and it showed, and it remained 2-1 at the half.
The second half continued much like the first - periods where Enfield controlled the game while we panicked, and periods when we kept our heads and played with composure. Barry was constantly in space and creating opportunities for us and Serdar was unlucky not to score several times. Enfield allowed us to have space and when we used it well we were dangerous - particularly on the counter.
But during another scrappy period for us Enfield scored twice more and when Ismet reacted to one of the many moronic acts of the Enfield number 5, and was sent off, we faced the prospect of being thrashed. We were still making chances though, and when Akin started to get behind their defence and cut the ball back, Enfield really looked vulnerable. One such occasion lead to a deliberate hand ball and send off for an Enfield defender, and we received our second penalty. Before we really had a chance to wonder who was going to take it, Amir was there calmly sending the keeper the wrong way and slotting it home.
4-2. Although we had other chances, it was a fair result as we spent too much time playing scrappy, panicked football that allowed Enfield to control long periods. However, it was clear that when we play controlled football - looking up, using and working for each other - we showed that we can match and beat them. May there be a next time ...
Full time score Rovers 2 - Enfield A 4.
Goals: Gavin, Amir
Pele Points: 3 - Barry Scott, 2 - Gavin Carey, 1 - Serdar Celik