Balmain Rovers v Concord A: Edwards Park, Concord: Sat 29 July 2006
Match report by Barry Scott
Second place versus third would normally make for an exciting encounter, however, both teams were aware that there was nothing to play for as they had already qualified for the up-coming play-off finals.
The team talk prior to this match was therefore to go out and enjoy ourselves and try to get our passing game flowing in preparation for the finals. With the team still looking slightly thin on the ground (I mean in numbers!) we started the match with only one sub due to the welcome return of Dave “the Dart” Hanna.
Balmain started the game once more a little sluggish (a common theme it seems this season?). The defence however looked in good shape. Jason & Ricky blocked everything through the centre, although a ball over the top stills causes its occasional problems. The full-backs in Allan & Dan defended the flanks well. The midfield on the other hand went missing. Organisation being the major issue I think. This meant that Serdar played a lonely role up front with little support coming forward from the midfield.
The Concord side were constantly voicing their opinion to both the ref and the Balmain players. Rovers on the other hand were the opposite, again very quiet and not communicating to their fellow team members. All Balmain players are big enough and old enough to know better, but we were rattled which started the downfall. Although the game meant nothing but pride, frustration set in. A bad challenge from behind on Serdar led to a reaction, and the player was booked. He was quickly reminded to stay calm as the finals were just round the corner.
The 1st Half ended 0-0. Not a good half for Rovers. We were 2nd to every ball, allowing the opposition to play their passing game. Concord’s centre back never broke sweat. Gaps in midfield put pressure on our own defence and our passing game was terrible, giving the ball away too cheaply on several occasions by several individuals (myself included). Rovers were on the back foot which meant becoming too defensive. What ever happened to enjoying ourselves??
At half time Serdar spoke, even kicking the ball away and getting angry!! But he was absolutely 100% correct. Always give the ball to an orange shirt by controlling the ball, looking up and passing accurately & firmly. Don’t just hoof it unless it becomes defensively necessary. He also pointed out that we were sitting back too much and not supporting our forward play.
Thankfully the 2nd half was a much improved performance from the orange men. Positive communication had started, encouraging each other in all areas of the park. We started to put pressure on the Concord side by never allowing them an easy passage of play. The midfield were organised and started to pick the ball up and move forward linking with the striker. Gavin once more played the key defensive position allowing players around him to be more attack minded. And what more can I say about the defence….Jason & Ricky were rock solid and Dan & Allan ran the line constantly pushing forward supporting their wide men and returning back to their defensive roles as always.
Concord’s constant bickering was an annoyance to all but as mentioned earlier should never present a problem to us as opponents. However, once more frustration hit home. Another bad challenge on Serdar provoked further reaction from the player and he was rightly shown his second yellow. Something we cannot afford in the coming weeks so the lesson needs to be learnt and learnt quickly for the greater good of the team.
Despite being a man down Balmain continued with the majority of possession. Any chances were limited to long range however due to the lack of a striker, with a couple of efforts from Gavin & Paul. With 15 mins to go Concord grabbed a goal from nowhere which unfortunately turned out to be the winner. A cross was played in from their left wing. Balmain were looking in good shape defensively to deal with it. The ball eventually came to Dan who chested the ball in the box but then in a split second lost his footing. In that lost moment, an oncoming Concord forward grasped his opportunity and placed the ball into the top corner giving Amir no chance of bailing us out.
Balmain had an opportunity to equalise with a good passage of forward play in midfield. Paul ran the channel splitting the Concord defence, when the ball was played into him he had one of two choices, take the shot or round the keeper. He decided to round the keeper nicely but before he could take a left foot swing on goal, Concord managed to recover and force the corner. Game over.
All in all, a scrappy affair, but a much needed 90 mins for the men in orange whom have had a break in recent weeks due to bad weather. With finals breathing down our necks we need to improve across the board. There’s no hiding place for anyone now, all 11 players on the park need to run their socks off and play 100% to their ability. If we do this you can’t ask for more. And if we do this we’ll also be good enough to make the final. See you all on Tuesday for much needed training!!
Next match: Strathfield
These are young lads who are fit and up for it. Our strength in this match will be in the way we organise ourselves and use the ball. Passing will be the key.
Full time score Rovers 0 - Concord A 1.
Pele Points: Both centre backs played out of their skins, blocking and intercepting play at key moments. I thought Jason just edged it due to his communication across the back four ... Jason 3 points, Ricky 2 points, and 1 each for Dan & Allan.