Balmain boys focussed at Dully

By Corinthian (Paul Green):

NSW PS4 State League League 1 – Round 19 feature game
3pm, Saturday 1st August, 2015 – Arlington Oval, Dulwich Hill

Dulwich Hill FC  0
lost to
Balmain Tigers FC 2 (Tom Hyde 18′, Lucas North o.g. 48′)

Dulwich Hill must have thought Balmain Tigers would have more on their minds than their State League 1 game against the Arlington Oval-based side, given their date with destiny next Tuesday against Melbourne Victory in the FFA Cup Round of 32.

Though Dully coach, Norman Tome, indicated before the match to Back of the Net that it was a must-win game for the visitors, who were in some danger of losing touch with the teams above them and securing fourth or fifth spot was of high importance for their side, his own players obviously didn’t see it the same way, to judge from their somewhat lacklustre display.

His words rang true, as even with a starting eleven that included a few squad players, Balmain went about their business in deadly earnest and were more than a match for Dully, whose form had been quite consistent of late.

Balmain right-back and captain, Tom Hyde, chose this game to score his first goal for the club in two seasons, an absolute screamer from 30 yards, following 18 minutes of steady pressure by his side and after a string of corners and attacking throws had gone his team-mates’ way.

That goal had Balmain’s confidence going up a notch immediately and there was more to come.

When a corner from the left, three minutes into the second-half from Domenico Di Mento, arrived at the near-post, the Dully keeper, Lucas North, tried to punch the ball away, after it became clear to him that he couldn’t catch it, succeeding only in helping the ball into his own net.

Having already had the stuffing knocked out of them by the Balmain captain’s first-half low drive, following an intended clearance and after a tight aerial contest inside the penalty-area, this second defensive mishap more or less ended the charge from the home side, against an opponent willing to apply themselves for the entire 90 minutes.

“They were hungrier than we were,” lamented Dulwich Hill coach, Norman Tome, after it was all over.  “The second goal was a killer for us”.

Dully were almost at full-strength, with only one of the two Morrison boys, James, missing.

Balmain, on the other hand, had some of their regular first-team players engaged in the earlier Under-20 fixture – which the Tigers also won, 4-2 in that instance – while the visitors were also missing their very skilful midfielder, Ahmed Chandab, who is under suspension for four games and will miss the Melbourne Victory match, as a consequence.

Ciaran Muir, just back from a 12-week injury-enforced lay-off, only lasted until half-time and had to be replaced, with the returning player being in doubt now for Tuesday’s big game, when the eyes of all of Australia will be on Joe Di Giulio’s minnows.

“It’s a twisted ankle, so we’ll have to see how it is during recovery,” explained the highly-motivated coach.

This was, however, a fairly average spectacle for the disappointingly small Saturday afternoon crowd, in a game originally scheduled for the Sunday, but moved at the request of the visitors, to allow them enough recovery time before playing their FFA Cup fixture on Tuesday night at Leichhardt Oval.

Balmain began well with Hyde sending Domenico Di Mento through after only eight minutes to face the keeper at a tight angle, with the shot narrowly missing the near-post.

With Hyde himself scoring only ten minutes later, the tone of the game seemed to reflect that as Dulwich Hill struggled to gain any ascendancy in front of their own supporters.

Sash Tirovski’s free-kick for Dulwich Hill in the 30th minute looked a good chance for them to draw level, but the experienced midfielder’s attempt was directed narrowly wide of the left-hand upright.

Balmain continued to show a willingness to get forward, as the first-half drew to a close, Domenico Di Mento put through by his brother and central midfielder, Giacomo Di Mento, in the 38th with Dully keeper, North rushing out to boot the ball clear, only just in time.

The same pair combined again in the 40th and as Domenico got to the left by-line and made ready to cross, the Dully defence stood in his path and denied him that promising opportunity.

The visitors drew blood again in the 48th, after Domenico Di Mento sent over a corner from the left.

It was high to the near-post, but perhaps the breeze freshened at the wrong moment, as North could not get to the ball to catch it cleanly and resorted to an ineffectual punch, handing the Tigers a two-goal lead as the ball went off in the wrong direction entirely, into his own net.

Dully danger-man, Stephen Hrysanthos, largely ploughing a lone furrow up front, was well looked after by the well-drilled Balmain defence and the probings of giant New Zealander, Sam Messam and the more will-o’ the wisp Adam Johnston were unable to take Balmain’s defence apart, as they might have hoped.

Three minutes after going two-up, Balmain almost saw their skipper grab a brace, with once again the Di Mento brothers combining well, this time spotting the run into the box from the right, by Hyde, whose footwork took him past his marker, but left him with a difficult angle to deal with and his low drive skimmed just wide of the left-hand upright.

Johnston went close with a 53rd minute volley, for Dully, which deflected for a corner, but while the home side did get the ball in the net eventually, from a Messam header, it was ruled out for offside.

Balmain also had a goal disallowed for similar reasons themselves in the 61st, headed fruitlessly into the net by Valentin Broehl.

Messam went close in the 62nd again, missing yet another chance, but an audacious over-head effort from Balmain’s front-runner, Scott Tonkin, two minutes later, was also close to beating North a third time.

Balmain were able to breathe a little easier following the win, as their Finals’ series’ hopes are back on track again, with two days’ of recovery ahead of them now, before taking on A League champions, Melbourne Victory.

The club has worked hard, both on the field and off, in preparation for the big match, four of the players, as well as the club’s manager and coach, doing most of the organisation for the night’s affairs.

Already with advertising sold to four match-day, club sponsors, enabling Balmain to cover the costs of staging their game, it was announced that 1,200 tickets had already been sold before the weekend had even begun.

The club is producing a programme for the match and hopes to see a walk-up crowd joining the 1,200 ticket-holders, perhaps swelling the crowd to more than double that number on the night.

As a token of thanks to certain fellow-clubs who’ve helped them this season with various acts of cooperation, Balmain have invited a dozen VIP guests from the ranks of fellow State League clubs, including North Shore Mariners, Western NSW Mariners, Gladesville Ryde Magic, Rydalmere Lions, Granville Rage and the State League 2 club Hurstville City Minotaurs, to receive their enhanced hospitality at Leichhardt Oval.

Whether they can beat Victory is another story, but it’s an occasion the players are determined to make the most of.

They’ll be doing recovery on both Sunday and Monday at Maroubra ocean pool and will then sit down together for a team lunch on the day of the match.

This is very much Balmain‘s big day, win, lose or draw and little has been left to chance.

As for Dulwich Hill, they remain strong contenders for the Finals.

“We just have to play better next week, that’s all,” said an obviously disappointed Dully coach, Norman Tome, before leaving Arlington Oval soon after the final whistle.

Match details

Crowd:  50 approx.

Dulwich Hill FC: GK 1 Lucas North; 3 Jacob Maruca (55 Hayden Pronin 59), 9 Robert Morrison (C), 5 Sam Cornish, 23 Alex Yin;  20 Sash Tirovski; 27 Joel Iannacito, 57 Sam Messam (16 James Cross 57), 17 Adam Johnston, 21 Akwasi Agyei (4 Christopher Pinto 75); 13 Stephen Hrysanthos
Subs not used: RGK 41 Mario Farias, 18 Eric Martinez

Coach: Norman Tome
Yellow cards: Akwasi Agyei 73, Sam Cornish 78, 84; Red cards: Sam Cornish 84

Balmain Tigers FC: GK 23 Anthony Costa; 2 Thomas Hyde (C), 22 Josh Karpes, 56 Jehan Loke, 10 Andrew Casali; 34 Ciaran Muir (13 James Kiosidis 46), 12 Giacomo Di Mento, 21 Gavin Wenyon, 30 Valentin Broehl (9 Jonathan Gowdy 70); 27 Scott  Tonkin (70 Tatsuya Nakadai 75), 18 Domenico Di Mento
Subs not used: RGK 61 Joel Cook, 11 William Donato

Coach: Joe Di Giulio
Yellow cards: Nil; Red cards: Nil

Referee: Roberto Mattei
Assistants: Leslie Foster and Kim Seok

Ratings and miscellaneous

Match 6/10
Pitch: 10/10 (Synthetic)

Weather: Mostly sunny and mild, with a steady breeze

Players noted: Joel Iannacito (DH), Sash Tirovski (DH), Adam Johnston (DH), Giacomo Di Mento (BT), Tom Hyde (BT), Gavin Wenyon (BT)