After a disappointing performance in their last game, the reserve grade were keen to get back on track against top of the league opposition, Balmain Wanderers. With the strongest contingent of players available yet this season, Glebe arrived early and keen to get started. Despite a full 15 players available on the day, there was a lack of defensive options and so the reserves lined up with Chris covering in goal once again and Luke having his first run out at central defence alongside Conor. Flanked by Steve and Tritto it was the first time they and played as a unit so would need to be well organised to shut out the free scoring Balmain side. The rest of the side lined up rather easier with a strong midfield of Neil, Damo, Oli and Christophe supporting an attacking force of James and Dutchie. The lads felt confident as they took to the field on what was threatening to be a wet afternoon.
Attacking the ‘Playground’ end in the first half, Glebe had a few early scares as the defence got settled and used to the new faces in the back line. After a few heated exchanges, far more constructive instructions began to build confidence amongst them. Once again the Gorillas showed their superior possessional game as chance after chance went begging around the Balmain goal. The structured direct style of Balmain was proving in the most part to be easier to handle than in recent weeks as their attackers held position and enabled the Glebe defence to maintain a high line. However, once again Glebe were caught on a direct breakaway when a shot from outside the box beat the diving keeper and hit the post only to come back directly to the feet of another Balmain player a yards away from an open net. Despite the last ditch attempt from Steve to block the shot it was 1-0 to the Wanderes which felt rather against the run of play. The game quickly settled back into much of the same with Balmain giving the ball away very cheaply across the pitch and Glebe failing to capitalise on the chances they created. The Gorillas went in 1-0 down at the break having battled hard for 45min to produce one of their better half’s of football this season and confident there were points to be gained in the second half.
After some inspiring words from the management they went back onto the field unchanged and with 4 subs keen to make a contribution. Balmain rejoined the field with their complacency seemingly gone and more determined to compete with a Glebe team stronger than their league position suggests. The Gorillas were up to the task though which made for an entertaining second period. Chances came for both teams to build on the scoreline but either the woodwork or keepers were up to the challenge and it stayed at 1-0 until mid way through the half when both teams scored to make it 2-1. First was Balmain who thought they had put the game to bed when they finally converted one of their chances but Glebe were quick to head back down the other end determined the game was not finished without a fight. A clever piece of midfield play ended with a confident finish from Dutchie across the keeper into the far side of the net. This would ensure a dramatic end to the game as Glebe maintained the pressure but despite the introduction of fresh legs in attack, Chris Paton (back from his pre-season injury) as well as Jason would not be able to help find an equalising goal. The game ended with the reserves knowing they had left nothing on the field but that on another day it could have gone a different way. Despite the disappointment of the result, it was a far more encouraging performance that sets the level of what need to be maintain to ensure we climb the league. We face them in the cup in a few weeks so knowing what they have to offer now will leave us confident that we can progress to the next round.