Concord A v Balmain Rovers: Nield Park, Five Dock: Sat 19 August 2006
Match report by Dan Higson
As the Balmain Rovers warmed up before the big Preliminary Final against arch enemies Concord, looking for a win to take them through to the Grand Final, tragedy struck! Ismet went down with a pulled groin before we'd even started. There were anxious faces all round but the boys weren't to be thwarted. The Rovers stepped on to the field, pumped. Right from the kick-off the game started at a frenzied pace. Almost all 22 players had a touch of the ball in the opening minutes as the ball went from one end of the field to the other at lightning pace. Baz and Gaz put in the legwork, pushing balls through to Dave and Akin on the wings whilst Serdar tested the defence at every opportunity.
However after only 10 or 15 minutes Concord crossed the ball in to the Rovers penalty area where some loose defending left a gap and Concord's best player was left unmarked. He let loose a cracking shot, beating Balmain's trusty keeper and Concord were 1-0 up. Balmain's heads dropped and for the rest of the first half they never looked like recovering. Ricky, Jason, Al and Dan did their best to stop any further goals keeping tight on their men but play was loose and messy throughout as Balmain couldn't find their game. Half time gave Allan a chance to gee his players up and get the focus back on playing the game our way. We had to win this one, losing was not an option.
The boys stepped out for the second half a different team. Spirits lifted immediately and the game started to go Balmain's way. After Concord's dirtiest player took a dramatic unnecessary dive Balmain were awarded a free kick and Paul stepped up to drop the ball in amongst four Balmain players standing in Concord's box. Brendan slotted home the equaliser with his left foot (leaving Baz poised behind him ready to pop it in himself). 1 all. Balmain's spirits lifted even further and applied even more pressure whilst Concord looked tired and already defeated. Some fantastic runs up the left wing from Dave, some silky smooth skills from Akin, some surprising runs from Jason up the right wing and some domineering play from Baz, Gaz, Paul & Couttsy in the midfield meant Balmain were in charge of the game.
Finally the moment came, Dave did his little dance in the left corner pushing the ball onto his stronger right foot and crossed the ball into Concord's penalty area, straight to the boot of Ismet who sent home the winning goal in the top right corner. What more can I say?
It was all over - the win of the season ... so far! A glorious well-fought game against our arch enemies Concord, taking Al's Army into next week's Grand Final against Enfield A. Bring it on, boys, bring it on! Full time Rovers 2 - Concord A 1.
Goals: Brendan Coutts, Ismet Tastan
Pele Points: Dave Hanna, Brendan Coutts, Akin Karaca, Jason Ives, Allan Frydman (for his half time chat - stirring stuff and much needed), Matt Mahony - 1 point (for turning up and getting his kit on and of course for supporting us throughout this and many other games).