Balga SC reserves made it two wins on the trot with a 2-0 victory over Melville City FC at Princess Reserve thanks to goals from Sadam Haj and Tahir Kulelija.
In a scrappy encounter, Balga possessed a bit more sharpness than their opponents and managed to make more from the limited opportunities presented to them.
Balga manager, Adrian Caloiero kept faith in his side with the introduction of Ton Thongnam and Omar Ahmed the only changes to the starting 11 and the return of veteran Halim El-Arabi to the substitute bench, the only change to the 16 that defeated Rockingham 2-1 just one week previous.
“We had a fairly decent post match recovery session early on in the week and with no major injuries coming to light, we knew we would be able to put out a strong team”
In fact, Caloiero’s only real dilemma was to continue with Aleer Majoll at right back or utilise the fully recovered El-Arabi who is renowned for his aggression. El-Arabi returned to the squad after being omitted from the past few rounds of the competition due to a chicken salt related illness.
Balga started well but as the game progressed and became more fragmented with numerous fouls from the visitors, their shape and passing became slightly ragged, but generally Caloiero will feel the game served its purpose.
“I’ve been saying to the lads during our preparations this week that we need to get our season kick started. It may not have been the nicest game to watch but at the end of the day, I feel that we were on top for the majority of the 90 mins the better team won. The lads did a great job out there today and I don’t think anyone can honestly say that we didn’t deserve the 3 points so hopefully we can build a bit of momentum going forwards from this.”
Balga perhaps could have won more dramatically with the visiting keeper having to make a few top shelf saves within the first 15 minutes. However, it wasn’t just one way traffic as Melville looked particularly dangerous on the break and were denied the opening goal of the game as their tap in was flagged for offside.
The home side continued to press and it wasn’t until 3 minutes from the break that they were rightfully awarded a penalty for a hand ball in the area. Melville’s claims were immediately dismissed by the referee, who without hesitation pointed straight to the spot. Haj stepped up to drill home into the bottom right had corner of the net leaving the Melville keeper no chance.
After the break, Balga took the game to Melville and Najib Sofe was instrumental in pushing the home side forward. However they failed to hold any long term possession as they were recklessly fouled by the visitors who went continually unpunished and it wasn’t until the 73rd minute when the referee produced yellow after Ahmed was hacked down on the edge of the box. Balga striker Kulelija casually stood in his signature free kick stance and once the whistle went, bent the ball in past the keeper into the top corner.
After the re-start, Caloiero’s men continued to show the same intensity they had done throughout the game dominating the final 15 mins. At this stage anything other than a Balga victory would have been hard to take however Thongnam was forced to make a save from a long range strike. The youngster who was more or less untested up until this point held safely to make his first clean sheet for the season.
Attention for the home side will now turn to next week’s trip to Wanneroo. A win here would leave Balga in a very promising position just ahead of the mid-season break.