With only 11 fit players to pick from, Balmain’s squad depth was tested and shown to be healthy in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Colo Colo. The Tigers came out playing some champagne football right from the opening whistle and after a couple of good chances the opening goal looked inevitable. It finally came 15 minutes in courtesy of Jem Richardson, who lost his marker and tucked Eamonn Byrne’s free kick past the onrushing goalkeeper. Balmain made it two a few minutes later when Steve Lewis found Nick Flower with a pinpoint corner, Flower applying a first time finish that left the keeper with no chance. The Tigers supporters celebrated a third with the last kick before half time, only to be disappointed as the play was called back due to an offside call. The second half began badly for the Tigers when Colo Colo were awarded a penalty after a player was pushed and fell off the ball. Colo Colo scored to make it 2-1 and from then on Balmain faced a battle to keep the three points. However the Tigers dug deep into their reserves of character and held out, perhaps lucky on one occasion when a Colo Colo header hit the post. In the end though, the Tigers came away with a thoroughly deserved victory that keeps them in touch with the league leaders. Transfer deadline signing Dan Hanucek earned the Exchange Hotel man of the match award with an excellent performance up front which will leave the injured Julian Bracewell wondering if he’ll be surplus to requirements when his fibula eventually stabilises.
Presented with a squad of nine players, the reserve team coaching duo of Kaltenegger and Warnink were forced to issue emergency call ups to big Dave Grillvinio and little Jimmy Campbell. With Campbell playing at the back and “Postiga” up front, it looked as though scoring opportunities were going to be minimal for both teams. Indeed Balmain were forced to work hard for the victory, which was achieved due to a solitary second half goal. The goal came courtesy of Alex Shain who, moments after receiving a blatant elbow to the head, leaped like a salmon and used the newly formed lump above his left eye to head a Nick Bounds throw-in goalward. The ball took a deflection, rather ironically off the elbow-thrower, and snuck past the keeper into the net. Nick Bounds turned in a dashing display at right fullback, earning himself two pints of the Exchange Hotel’s finest for being man of the match.