A late late goal from substitute Sean Foley gave Balmain the points in a 1-0 win away to Prospect United on Sunday. Daniel Totaro made his Tigers first grade debut, playing up front with crowd favourite Lorenzo Merlino. Prospect got stuck in early in the game and Jackson Gothe-Snape copped an elbow to the mouth in an unsavoury off the ball incident. Football-wise, the first half was all Balmain and, if not for a couple of good saves from the Prospect keeper, the game could have been sewn up at the break. Jeremy Deasey was causing havoc on the flanks and he was twice denied by point blank saves as well as the crossbar after what looked like a goal-bound header glanced over. Justin Delaney added to his catalogue of fine saves this season, denying a Prospect striker in a one on one situation 30 seconds before half time.
The Tigers continued their dominance in the second period, with Dave Hardwick and Eric Lynch in particluar dominating the midfield. but as the possession statistics rapidly approached 80:20 it looked as though the goal would never come. Stand-in coach Anton Ivancic took a gamble in the last ten minutes, pushing sweeper Grant Burgess up into attack, and bringing on the diminutive Sean Foley for Totaro. Burgess had the opportunity to win it when he found himself in plenty of space in the box, only to see the keeper save the shot with his foot after diving in the wrong direction. Burgess made amends in the 89th minute though when he sent a knee-high bullet of a cross over from the right. Foley, currently on loan from the magnificently named Hull City Tigers, beat his marker to the cross and sent a rocket of a volley into the top corner. Truly a top class goal, and if he keeps it up Balmain will be looking to make the loan deal into a permanent transfer.
Captain Eric Lynch earned the Exchange Hotel man of the match award for the second week running, and at this rate he should be a shoe-in for the Gillespies Cranes May Man of the Month Award.
The U21s blitzed their opponents in the first half on the way to an impressive 5-2 victory. Back from a week off after experiencing scooter maintenance issues, Julian Bracewell gave the Tigers an early lead, slotting the ball past the keeper in a one on one situation. Prospect then added a second for the Tigers when a defender blasted Ben Shine’s cross past his own keeper after he spied Steele Bonus approaching like a freight train out of the corner of his eye. Bracewell then scored the third from the penalty spot after a handball, much to Sami Yildiz’s delight. Bonus clipped in the fourth at the back post shortly after half time when Trsitan Aguire’s corner bounced past everyone in the box. The Tigers began to coast and unfortunately gave Prospect a glimmer of hope, conceding a scrappy goal from a goalmouth scramble after a corner. Balmain then conceded a penalty which was put away to make the score 4-2. However captain Aguire had the final say, adding the fifth of the afternoon after some enterprising lead up play from Bracewell, whose trickery up front earned him the Exchange Hotel man of the match.
The U19s overcame a woeful first half an hour, producing a stunning second half fight back to claim a 3-3 draw. Prospect were eyeing up a cricket score as they outclassed the Tigers early on, quickly racing to a 3-0 lead. However captain Matt Coelho shocked the home side with a 45th minute goal that slipped in off the post to make the half time score 3-1. Encouraged by the late goal, a different side emerged in the second half and they set about matching Prospect with a more physical performance. Hugo “Guti” Muecke began pulling the strings in midfield, and defenders Seb Hartford-Davis and David Pye tightened up the backline, making several crucial tackles. Their endeavour was rewarded on 70 minutes as Simon Roddy chested down a cross and chipped over the rushing keeper. The Tigers piled on the pressure looking for an equaliser, and Prospect finally cracked with 10 to go. Barnes Hartford-Davis won a header at the back post from a corner, and Grant Burgess was on hand to flick it over the keeper with the back of his head. Cue wild celebrations and disbelief from the Prospect supporters.