After the highs of last week’s performance, Balmain suffered a dose of reality as they were outplayed in every department in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Sydney Cedars. The Tigers looked sluggish from the outset and only really got going after the Cedars scored the opener after 20 minutes. Despite creating a couple of half chances, nothing eventuated and the score at half time was 1-0 to the home side. The second half began with more misery for the Tigers as the first cross from the Cedars was headed in for a Balmain own goal. However Balmain hit back almost immediately when Steve Lewis struck a free kick that took a deflection on its way past the stranded Cedars keeper. The all action start to the second period did not let up though and within another minute or so the Cedars had made it 3-1 from the penalty spot. The penalty came after a Cedars attacker had butchered a one-on-one opportunity with Justin Delaney making a great save. He looked up, saw the three or four Tigers defenders trying to tackle him, screamed, threw his arms in the air and the rest is history. The Cedars added a fourth before Nick Flower scored a consolation goal from the penalty spot. The other title contenders all won on the weekend, cutting the Balmain lead to a solitary point. The task that remains – wins from both remaining games and the title returns to Birchgrove.
On a somehwat brighter note, congratulations and celeberations are due as the Reserve team finally got the point they needed to clinch the title in a 1-1 draw. Despite enjoying a majority of possession, some wayward finishing from the Tigers saw the match remain scoreless for the first quarter of an hour. Playing on the counter attack, the Cedars scored against the run of play with a shot from the edge of the area that went in off the post. Balmain applied the pressure in response but with the Cedars keeper having an impressive game it looked like goals would be hard to come by. Indeed they were, and it took the Tigers until virtually the last play of the first half to equalise when Julian Bracewell’s flicked header sent the ball into the top corner from Alex Kaltenegger’s free kick. The second half resembled the first as Balmain controlled the game and the Cedars played on the counter. The Tigers had a couple of chances to wrap up the win but in the end the scores remained level. By the way, check back later this week as we should have video footage, including the goal that won the league, courtesy of SBS.
Congratulations to Reserve team coaches Alex Kaltenegger and Frank Warnink, all the players, supporters, and everyone else who has contributed to the Reserve team success this season. The next job for the boys is to see if they can carry on and add a finals series medal to their championship trophy.