A see-sawing struggle between Balmain and Fogolar Wanderers ended with the Tigers letting slip a second half lead to lose 4-2 on Sunday. Not quite a flogging, but a catchy headline nonetheless. The first half was a cagey affair, with neither side creating any major chances until Fogolar grabbed the lead a couple of minutes before the break. A flicked header from a Fogolar corner kick left the defenders with no chance as it flew into the top corner off the bar.
The Tigers equalised when Lorenzo Merlino outjumped the keeper, heading in Anthony Trieste’s free kick shortly after half time. Trieste then gave Balmain the lead with a free kick that bounced over the line after the Fogolar keeper again flapped at thin air. In the first of a couple of controversial incidents, Fogolar equalised with a goal that took advantage of the old Soccer NSW refereeing shortage. An attacker who was well over a couple of metres offside was put into the clear, only for the referee to wave play on as he had no assistant in that side of the field. Minutes later Fogolar regained the lead with a shot from outside the area that took a deflection off a defender and looped into the top corner with Justin Delaney wrongfooted. To top it all off, with most of the Balmain side pushed forward looking for an equaliser, the referee again proved crucial when he intercepted Eric Lynch’s pass, playing a beautiful first time ball to a Fogolar player who passed the ball to an unmarked teammate to run through and score. A tireless captain’s display in midfield earned Eric Lynch the Exchange Hotel man of the match award.
The U21s never recovered from a sloppy first half and eventually went down 3-0 in a game that started a quarter of an hour late, due to the scheduled official failing to show up to referee the match. Fortunately the Fogolar stewards managed to find a referee in a nearby barber shop, where they convinced him to leave halfway through a haircut to officiate on the match instead. Balmain were also boosted by the return from injury of Henrik Andersson, after a month spent telling any girl who would listen about his thigh injury. Sadly for the Tigers, while looking good with the ball and enjoying a lot of possession, they found themselves behind to three soft goals within the first half hour. They were unable to recover from the terrible start, and the game remained scoreless in the second half.
There were goals aplenty as the U19s achieved their first win of the season, triumphing 6-3 over Fogolar. The Wanderers took a surprise lead within 10 minutes – surprising because they only had eight players on the field. Sam McNeill levelled things for the Tigers before Simon Roddy scored two, and Ben Shine added the fourth shortly before half time. The Tigers were reduced to 10 men at half time after Chris Grayson split the webbing between his big toe and the next one. Fogolar also found a 9th player to make it 10 v 9 in the second half. Both sides managed two more goals, with Simon Roddy completing his hat trick and Ben Shine making it a double.