Conference League Northern Round 14 Review


Girgin put Roosters ahead with a goal on 24 minutes, before Dunn sent the home fans into a frenzy with an equalizer in the 70th minute.
But Roosters were not to be denied, and it was that man Girgin again who did the damage, grabbing the winner for his team with just ten minutes remaining.
The win puts Roosters FC on 27 points, 7 points behind leaders Balmain, and importantly now with a three point gap over third placed Hawkesbury.
The Hawks dropped vital points on Saturday evening when they drew 0-0 away at Bathurst ?75. Both teams had opportunities to win the game, but the keepers held reign,  the draw a fair result in the end.
On Sunday at Luddenham Oval, bottom club Luddenham sprung a surprise by holding the in form Gladesville Ryde Magic to a 2-2 draw.
Gatt put Magic in front as early as the 9th minute, but Khatari equalized for Luddenham just five minutes later. John Martinez restored Gladesville?s lead in the 65th minute, but Khatari had the last laugh, with his and his team?s second goal of the match coming very late indeed, in the second minute of injury time.
The draw has, however, moved Gladesville up to fourth position at the expense of Springwood.
Penang had the weekend off courtesy of the bye

Match of the Round

Springwood sprung by clinical Balmain

The long drive to Winmalee on a cool winter?s Saturday night, the boisterous voice of the local support, and the physical stubbornness of the home side, all contribute to a tough encounter for any side having to venture to Summerhayes Park to take on Springwood.
But as much as Springwood huffed and puffed, it was Balmain that blew the house down, with some clinical finishing in a polished display, resulting in a 0-5 away victory for the competition leaders.
Springwood had the better of general possession early on, and Haberman showed his intention on 9 minutes when he hit a speculator from almost 30 yards that was wide of the mark, trying to catch Balmain keeper Fujiwara off his line.
A minute later and a Springwood corner sailed over the crowd of players to the unmarked Davies at the far post. The skipper calmly controlled the ball on his chest, but miscued his low shot into the side netting when he may have been better served cutting it across the goal.
Balmain?s first real chance came after 11 minutes, when Modena volleyed weakly  straight at Richardson in the Springwood goal, latching onto Andrew?s cross just inside the penalty area.
The middle of the park was where most of the action was taking place, the tackles fierce as both engine rooms tried to grab the game by the scruff of the neck.
Balmain took the initiative and opened the scoring on 17 minutes with a beautifully worked goal. Right back Grayson raced down the flank after a swift one-two with Buonavoglia, the striker offering immediate support and receiving the ball back as he entered the right side of the penalty area. Shielding the ball, Buonavoglia then swiveled to beat his man, whipping in a perfect cross for Andrews to head expertly, downwards and past Springwood keeper, Richardson.
Springwood picked up the intensity a little and should?ve equalized just three minutes after going behind. Midfielder Small raced straight down the middle of the Balmain defence, taking advantage of a slip by central defender Pace, but his low shot in a one-on-one was brilliantly saved by Balmain custodian, Fujiwara.
Moments later and a quick clearance by Balmain was controlled by Buonavoglia on the halfway line. The little striker swiftly put a great through ball to Merlino, and his shot from an acute angle flashed across the goalposts.
Springwood to their credit just kept coming, and an effective interchange of passes in the 23rd minute down the right wing resulted in a firm outswinging cross by Fillingham. Small got on the end of it, only to see his downward header come back off the post after beating Balmain keeper Fujiwara all ends up.
On 28 minutes, Springwood?s skipper Davies picked up a square pass on the edge of the box from J. Hunter, not troubling Fujiwara as he cracked his shot wide of the mark.
Balmain then made it 2-0 in the 37th minute with yet another clinical goal. Buonavoglia laid a short ball to strike partner Merlino in the centre of the Springwood half, racing into a gap to receive the return pass. After controlling Merlino?s chip, Buonavoglia calmly turned inside the retrieving defender, to place his left foot shot past the hapless Richardson in the Springwood goal.
It was all a little too much for Springwood defenders Agius and Fillingham, who were both duly booked by referee Mr.P.Apostolou for dissent in the aftermath of the goal.
It only got worse for the home side as Balmain grabbed a third goal just before the break to all but put the match beyond doubt. A Balmain corner was headed weakly straight to Buonavoglia just inside the penalty area, and he took a touch before striking it low, through a sea of legs, into the bottom corner of the net.
So the half time whistle shrieked, with a fairly evenly played match producing an uneven scoreline of 3-0 to the away side. The difference between the sides had undoubtedly been the strikepower, the ability to manufacture an opportunity and tuck it away. Springwood had worked hard, but were wasteful in the attacking third, with the Balmain backline being well marshalled by the experienced and composed Pettenon.
Balmain had been patient, and were no where near as wasteful when the opportunities had presented themselves.
Balmain?s left sided midfielder, Richardson, almost scored within minutes of the restart, skewing his shot wide after being played in by Modena.
Springwood lifted the intensity and pushed men forward in to try and salvage the game, but an unsavoury incident in the 65th minute all but put the match beyond their grasp. 
Defender Fillingham was shown a second yellow card for an over-zealous tackle, reducing his team to ten men and making the mountain just that little bit harder to climb. In the ensuing aftermath, the game was held up for a few minutes as a couple of the Springwood bench officials were also banished off the playing arena for dissent.
The home side kept up the hard work, and J. Hunter had a great chance to pull one back for Springwood on 74 minutes, hitting his shot straight at Fujiwara after R. Hunter had put him through with a great pass.
The final minutes of the match provided a frenzy of activity as Springwood threw caution to the wind, trying to give their loyal supporters something to cheer about.
But Balmain were even more patient as the final whistle loomed, and on 81 minutes midfielder Andrews dispossessed Agius, putting Buonavoglia through down the right wing. He crossed to the far post, where substitute Deasey hit a fierce volley that was parried by Richardson.
A minute later and the action was down the other end, J. Hunter again being denied by Balmain keeper Fujiwara after being put through by Small.
Going all out meant that Springwood were man for man at the back, and on 43 minutes, Balmain took advantage of the extra space. Buonavoglia picked up a long pass on the halfway line, and zeroed in towards goal. Approaching Springwood defender, Agius, the little striker sold him a couple of step overs before being clipped in the box as he went past him. Referee Mr Apostolou pointed to the spot, and Buonavoglia cheekily chipped his penalty straight down the middle of the goal as Richardson dived to his right, securing his hatrick.
The pain wasn?t quite over for the home side, and two minutes into injury time Balmain rubbed salt into Springwood?s wounds when they scored their fifth goal. Merlino played a pass across to the unmarked Modena on the right side of the penalty area, and the midfielder took a touch before smacking a shot high into the far side of the Springwood net, across the face of the onrushing Richardson.
Springwood did try hard in a game that was always going to be a test for them, the defence and midfield strong in the tackle, and with a high workrate, but the lack of execution cost them dearly.
Balmain showed why they are top of the ladder and undefeated, patient in their build up, composed on the ball from the defence to the midfield, and clinical in the front third.
Springwood coach, ex-Marconi and ex-Young Socceroo, Ian Hunter, was pleased with the effort of his troops despite the result ? ?I felt we were tactically on the game tonight, and the effort was excellent, but we just didn?t take our chances?? said Hunter.
?It was an important game for us tonight, but losing this one and having dropped points early in the season, the top two is probably beyond us now??lamented Hunter.
Balmain?s skipper and man-of-the-match, ex-A League and NSL star, Johhny ?jockey? Buonavoglia, was expectedly thrilled with his team?s win? ?It was a big pitch, and we concentrated on holding possession, and being patient?.
When quizzed on both his personal, and the team?s, excellent performance this season, Buonavoglia enthused ?.?We have such a tight knit group, we work hard, we have a game plan that we try to execute each week, and I am really enjoying myself with these guys?.
Best on the day for Springwood were ; skipper Davies, who was tough as an anchor in midfield, and an effective link between defence and attack ; midfielder Small, who kept going all night and made many forays from midfield to support his attack ; and midfielder Haberman, who was effective on the ball and with his distribution.
Best for the competition leaders, Balmain, were; striker Buonavoglia, who was clearly man-of-the-match, scoring a brilliant hatrick, providing an assist for a fourth, and technically one of the best players in the league with his deft touches and effective runs, striker Merlino, who, although didn?t get on the scoresheet, complements Buonavoglia as the target man who holds the ball up superbly, links well with his team mates, and does the hard yards up front ; midfielder Modena, who worked tirelessly all night in the midfield, and was rewarded for his efforts with a great strike in injury time ; defender Pettenon, calm and composed on the ball, vocal with his instructions, and simple but effective with his distribution.
Match Stats
(Andrews 17?, Buonavoglia 37? / 43? / 88?pen, Modena 90?+2)
SPRINGWOOD ? 1.Richardson, 2.King, 3.Agius, 4.Fillingham, 5.Davies?, 6.Hunter,R.,  7.Kelly (13.Lynch 78?), 8.Small, 9.Hunter,J., 10.Henderson (12.Halse 56?), 11.Haberman.
Subs not used :14. Jones, 15. Hunter,B., 16.Malouf.
BALMAIN SC ? 1.Fujiwara, 2.Grayson, 3.Sowden, 4.Pace (14.Trieste 60?), 5.Pettenon, 6.Andrews, 7.Modena, 8.Gothe-Snape (12.Hardwick 78?), 9.Merlino, 10.Buonavoglia?, 11.Richardson (13.Deasey 74?).
Subs not used :15. Tucker, RGK. Martin.
-By Frank Speranza