Springwood rode their luck on several occasions in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Balmain. The visitors opened the scoring in the first five minutes when a deep cross landed on an unmarked mountain dwarf’s head and he made no mistake, heading in to the far corner. The Tigers levelled things midway through the first period when Jackson Gothe-Snape launched a free kick goalward. Julian Bracewell claimed the goal as the goalbound strike barely brushed the top of his ear on its way through to the back of the net.
A minute after the restart, Springwood regained the lead in a moment of pure controversy. A free kick was lofted high and wide over the top of the box and the referee blew his whistle for a goalkick. Or so everyone thought. A Springwood player had flung himself onto the ground at the merest touch from Gothe-Snape and the referee was quite incredibly blowing for a penalty kick. The spot kick was duly dispatched for what ultimately proved to be the match winner. Balmain well and truly outplayed the competition leaders for the rest of the match, peppering the visitor’s goal with shots, corners and headers. Gavin Buddis hit the crossbar with a close range header, and Daniel Totaro hit a couple of shots narrowly over the top. Sadly Springwood hung on for a victory that moved them an unbelievable 12 points clear of the Tigers. Jackson Gothe-Snape earned himself the man of the match honours with a fine performance in defence, and if not for Bracewell’s big ear would have scored his first goal in four or five seasons.
The U21s lost it, then won it, then lost it again in a crazy 4-3 loss to Springwood. Half asleep after the kick-off, the Tigers found themsleves behind in the first minute after a defensive lapse. Backing up from the U19s, Simon Roddy equalised for Balmain on 10 minutes, heading in Eric LaRocca’s pinpoint corner with the back of his head. Springwood made it 2-1 10 minutes before half time when they converted a penalty after Balmain keeper Andy Pye had brought down their striker in a one-on-one situation. However Balmain hit back before the interval when makeshift striker Grant Burgess knocked the ball in after a goalmouth scramble. The Tigers looked in control early in the second period when Eric LaRocca added a third with a free kick taken from closer to half way than the penalty area. Although he hit it like a missile, such was the distance out from goal it took about a minute to reach the top corner, during which time the Springwood keeper lost interest and took his eye off the ball (just kidding Eric!). Dominating the game, the Tigers let their guard down and allowed their opponents to equalise almost immediately. Springwood then grabbed a winner in the final five minutes to win a game the Tigers should never have lost. Eric LaRocca’s extraordinary goal, as well as his earlier assist, earned him the Exchange Hotel man of the match award.
Despite feeling confident after last week’s amazing second half comeback, the U19s succumbed to Springwood 3-1 in the first match of the day. Springwood took a 1-0 lead on the half hour mark and kept the lead until half time, with Tigers captain Matt Coelho unfortunately hitting the crossbar with a well-taken free kick just before the break. Benny Shine put Balmain back in the hunt when a mazy dribble starting near the sideline ended with him sticking the ball into the back of the net. The Tigers couldn’t make any further headway and two goals for the visitors in the final half hour gave them a deserved victory.