Road trip double

Balmain made the longest journey of the season well worthwhile with wins for both grades over Lithgow at the weekend. The first team followed up an excellent first half with a patchy second half but still managed to run out 2-0 winners. Balmain youth academy sensation Chris Grayson opened the scoring, popping up in the box to force home a low cross for his first goal of the season. Then followed a series of missed chances, with an otherwise rampaging Jem Richardson being particularly wasteful. Richardson however did manage a superb overhead volley direct from a corner but was denied a corker by a Lithgow defender’s headed goal line clearance. Early in the second half substitute Paolo Gravina and Jeremy “Jake the Snake” Loblay combined with a sweet one-two that sent Loblay into the clear, and he squeezed his shot under the Lithgow keeper for the second. Balmain had to absorb tremendous amounts of late pressure in the last 15 minutes with Lithgow hitting the goalposts on four or five occasions. In the end though it was Balmain’s day and the win extends the Tigers recent run of good form to four wins in a row.
The reserve team were very nearly mugged before a solitary late goal grabbed them three vital points. Balmain started the game on fire and, if not for some poor finishing, could have been up by four or five by half time. The game looked headed for a frustrating draw when, with ten minutes to go, Lithgow were awarded a penalty the first time they entered the Balmain penalty box. Coach Leo Cirillo ordered the defrosting of the cryogenically frozen keeper Matt Mulhall, who had not been needed up until that point, and feeling fresh as a daisy he dived to his left to pull off a magnificent penalty save. This inspired the Tigers and, in the 87th minute, substitute Jemba Jemba Richardson beat the offside trap and cut the ball back to Fraser “Sklep” Leggat who was free in the box with the goal at his mercy. Sklep promptly tripped over the ball attempting a first time shot but, such is his blinding speed, he still managed to regain his feet, avoid a defender, and stab the ball past the keeper for the winner. Truly a goal to be cherished.