Balmain registered their first points of the season with a comfortable 3-1 victory away to Greenisland on Sunday. Despite being introduced as “Glebe Tigers” by the cartographically-dyslexic ground announcer, the lads overcame the identity crisis to start the match brightly. Keen to impress with his first start, Kelly Zammit, twin brother of 2004 cult hero and secret gymnast Dylan, began what would turn out to be a stormer of a game on the right of midfield. Zammit’s early cross found Lorenzo Merlino at the back post, only to have his neat volleyed finish disallowed after Julian Bracewell was adjudged offside. The breakthrough came 24 minutes in, with Merlino unleashing a huge tackle on the half-way line, spilling the ball to Dave Hardwick who put Bracewell through clear on goal, and he calmly slotted it past the keeper.
The lead was doubled a couple of minutes after half time as Zammit again found Merlino with a pinpoint cross at the far post. This time the keeper produced an amazing save to deny Merlino but fortunately, only managed to parry it straight back, giving him the opportunity to score from all of a yard. After last week’s shenanigans, a few in the crowd still held their breath, but they need not have worried as the big man walked it over the line. Dave Hardwick added a third with 15 miuntes remaining, his shot beating the keeper and rolling in off the post. Greenisland managed a late scare when they scored inside the final 10 minutes and also forced keeper Justin Delaney into making a couple of top-drawer saves. However anything less than a win would have been harsh justice on the Tigers, and so they held their lead until the final whistle.
The 21s also found their first win for 2005, coming from behind twice in a hard-fought 3-2 victory. It looked as if it wasn’t going to be the Tigers’ day as Greenisland scored a scrappy goal after a scramble in the box, and Daniel Totaro had two goals disallowed as well as another near miss. Despite enjoying the better of the play for most of the half, Balmain went into the sheds down 1-0 at half time. The luck changed shortly after the restart as Paul Graham’s cross was dropped by the keeper onto his own head and back over the line for a cracking own goal to level things up. Greenisland then hit straight back, regaining the lead a couple of minutes later. Totaro finally got a deserved goal when he leapt like a salmon to head Eric LaRocca’s cross in, and Sami Yildiz snatched the winner for the Tigers shortly after.
Playing the first 10 minutes with only 9 men, the 19s did well in a narrow 2-1 loss. Greenisland scored the opener before Balmain could get their full team on the pitch, and then added a second 10 minutes before the break. Balmain showed a lot of courage in the second half to outplay their opponents, but were unable to peg back the two goal advantage. Simon Roddy scored for Balmain with a cracking curling shot into the top left corner from 20 metres with a minute to go to make the final score 2-1 to the home side.