Any contributions should be given or faxed to Ricky Onsman (fx 9375 1446) by Thursday midday.

A Revenge Tragedy

MATCH REPORT: by Ricky Onsman

Match: Balmain AA6B v Five Dock B
Venue: Mackie Park, South Marrickville
Date: Saturday 17 April 1999
Time: 1.15pm kick-off

After some significant periods of confident, positive play against Marrickville last week, and coming away with their first point of the new season, the boys from Balmain, fielding an equally strong line-up this week, were feeling pretty good about wreaking some revenge for last seasonís losses to Five Dock B.

Then the match started.

Itís hard to believe so much could go wrong so quickly. At the start, the midfield was certainly as active as the previous week, and several moves involved the forwards in attacks on goal, but without reward. Five Dockís favoured tactic quickly became to avoid the midfield altogether and belt the ball upfield for their forwards and the Balmain defenders to chase. On a hot, sunny afternoon, Balmainís lack of fitness rapidly became a factor, and the Five Dock attacked the goal several times, drawing one terrific fingertip save from Adam. Unfortunately, said fingertip was already damaged goods, and the impact severely limited the digitís immediate usefulness.

The attacks on goal continued for both teams, but only Five Dock was rewarded. Not once, not twice, but three times, before a typically bustling midfield run by Russell gave him enough space for a cracking shot that gave the opposing goalie little chance.

Now at this point, the match was poised. On balance, Five Dock probably had considerably less footballing talent on the park, but had the distinct advantage of knowing each otherís play well, and having established a team understanding of their game str egy. Balmain, on the other hand, was edgy, distracted, blustering and frustrated. Heads were drooping by Five Dockís third goal. Russellís firecracker, however, had the potential to re-ignite the game, if Balmain could follow up with a determined effort to take control.

Instead, Five Dock scored again.

Pondering a half-time scoreline of 1-4, the Balmain players seemed at a loss. The approach that had worked so well the previous week - defenders playing short to midfielders who ran the ball through the centre or down the wings to feed the strikers - was simply having no effect. Russell and Garry, in particular, had showed great energy in emphatic attempts to win the ball (sometimes too emphatic for the ref, to our boysí further frustration), but as often as not the moves had petered out for lack of decent finishing opportunities, or been crushed by the linesmanís often novel interpretation of the offside rule.

Still, Marrickville had come back from 3-0 down last weekend. The second half was yet to come.

Balmain made three half-time substitutions. Adam found it impossible to continue and handed the gloves to Carlos, who was replaced up front by Leon, joining Sergio in the hunt for goals. Left half Sam had come off shortly before the interval, and right half Emrys was replaced by Joey, moving up from right back, where he was replaced by Norman.

Balmain remained positive, creating chances and fending off attacks - until Five Dock scored again. For a short while, all confidence, style and cooperation completely disappeared from Balmainís game. Not surprisingly, Five Dock scored again. Something kicked in then, as the prospect of double figures loomed, and the lads in orange regrouped. Determination replaced blustering and Five Dock settled down to defend their winning total. After some of the best attacking moves Balmain had employed all day, Joey finally broke through, capping a winding run in which he lost and regained the ball before slotting into the net.

There are only two significant things to note about the score: i) Balmain scored two goals, each the result of desperate individual efforts, and ii) the opposition scored six times - SIX! What else came out of this game?

1. The defenders must give their opponents less room.
2. The midfielders must translate individual skills into team skills.
3. The forwards must beat the offside trap.
4. Balmain must lift its overall level of fitness.
5. Balmain must come up with an answer to the long ball.
6. Balmain must learn to identify, target and nullify opposition playmakers.
7. Each Balmain player needs to find a way to regularly draw on the part of himself that does not give up.

The Pele Medal points go to:

Garry 2 points
Joey 2 points
Russell 2 points

Some points for newcomers to Balmain AA6B. The Pele Medal is real - it is awarded at our Annual Awards Night to the player who scores the most points from writers of the match reports. Players take it in turns to write the match reports. This was Rickyís second match report (since he was at the last match, but not playing), but usually no-one has to write more than one match report each year. AA6Bís 1998 Report includes all last yearís match reports to refer to - see Ricky for copies. Training takes place at Cohen Park in Leichhardt on Thursday nights from 7pm. Training is not compulsory, but attendance is taken into account in team selection. This is to reward those who do attend training, not to punish those who canít.

The English F.A. Cup

Saturday 22 May

Manchester United v Newcastle United

Sergio welcomes any Balmain AA6B players to his Ashfield residence for an evening of top quality football.
More details as they come to hand. Anyone closer to the Eastern Suburbs have anything planned?