HELENSBURGH STEAL WIN WITH LAST MINUTE HEROICS
A late goal from Helensburgh substitute, Bradley Strudwick, saw Helensburgh Thistle steal a 2-1 victory over the Balgownie Rangers in the District League’s First Grade fixture on Saturday.
Strong winds and cold weather made playing and watching football this weekend difficult.
Helensburgh entered the encounter looking to go top spot with results going their way. After a tight win against Thirroul the week prior saw them in second position on the ladder. Helensburgh’s star striker, Kade Kinsella, had been at the forefront of this impetus, totalling nine goals in the first four rounds and leading the competition golden boot convincingly.
Balgownie had earned their first win of the season last week, and sitting in seventh position, they were looking to build some momentum.
The opening stanza of the match beheld a steady tempo as both teams looked to maintain possession, abiding by their basic attacking structures, and taking little risks on offence and defence.
After a few modest attempts at goal, the first real opportunity came in the 25th minute, as Helensburgh’s speedy right winger, Ben Watts, found himself in the clear on the back of a swift counterattack. Watts received the ball just over the halfway line and he went on a straight, unobstructed run to the goal which resulted in a genuine one-on-one opportunity. Unfortunately, Watts directed the shot attempt straight down the keeper’s throat in a disappointing finish.
As the half progressed, it seemed imminent that Helensburgh would soon score, having major success counter attacking, especially via Watts on the right flank. The combination of Helensburgh’s attacking midfielder, Hikaru Torigoe, along with Watts and Kinsella was especially pleasant to watch as the three front men showed great cohesion and persistence in finding the best shot possible. Alas, the Thistle’s finishing that we’d seen in recent weeks was misfiring.
Just before the half time break, Balgownie got a sniff through Sebastian Dallas, beating multiple defenders off the dribble and cutting in on the corner of the box, sending the ball whirring past the far upright.
The scoreboard attendant remained untroubled at the half.
In the 55th minute, the stalemate finally was broken. A run by Watts down the right wing saw him with plenty of room to move in enemy territory. After burning his man down the right wing, Watts cut in towards the goal and off his left foot, curled it into the far corner and watched the ball roll around the net for a 1-0 lead.
The match seemed to slow down from here, with many Helensburgh players perhaps becoming comfortable with the lead as simple errors crept into their play. Balgownie weren’t prepared to roll over however, as they picked up the tempo where Thistle had dropped off.
By the 75th minute, Balgownie were given a free kick in attacking territory, wherein, the reliable Max Allan curled an absolute pearler of a delivery to the far side of the goal mouth. Charging onto it was the unit, Brandon Lewis, to steer it in off the head, netting the first goal for the Rangers and the equaliser.
Just two minutes later, Balgownie had the crowd on their feet again after seemingly landing the go-ahead goal, only to be denied by a late whistle which ruled that the ball had gone out in flight.
Balgownie continued to mount the pressure and in the 86th minute, Mark Jones’ half volley looked certain to find the back of the net, only to be thwarted by Thistle’s goalkeeper Matt Wardle.
Minutes into stoppage time had many checking their watches, not Kade Kinsella however, as he took possession of a ricochet just before the goal line, and in traffic, he pivoted, evaded a defender and crossed it to the far side of the goal mouth. Charging in on the receiving end was Helensburgh’s super substitute, Bradley Strudwick, whose header went back against the grain, giving the keeper no chance as it perched itself in the side of the net.
The game finished 2-1 to the visitors, Helensburgh Thistle. In an enthralling 90 minutes of football that saw them maintain second position in the District league First Grade competition.
Helensburgh will return home next Saturday to take on the fifth place and dangerous Oak Flats Falcons.
Meanwhile, Balgownie Rangers will be tasked with the in-form Unanderra Hearts side, who are coming off a 5-0 win and currently sit just below Thistle in third spot on the District League ladder.
Saturday 22nd of August at Judy Masters Park
The People Care District League (FG) – Round 5
Balgownie Rangers: 1 (LEWIS 75’)
Helensburgh Thistle: 2 (WATTS 55’, STRUDWICK 93’)
Balgownie Rangers: Hugh BAHNERT, Luke MCDONALD, Max ALLAN, Mitchell DAVIS, Matthew MCCOY, Jackson POMMETT, Brandon LEWIS, Timothy COLE, Lucas BRUCE, Sebastian DALLAS, Zac CRAW, Mathew BUBB, Mark JONES, Liam STEVENSON
Helensburgh Thistle: Matt WARDLE, Blake CHARMAN, Jarrod BENHAM, Dylan CROCKER, Scott MAWBEY, Reggae ROWLEY, Reece MCALPINE, Josh BRADY, Kade KINSELLA, Hikaru TORIGOE, Ben WATTS, Eamon VAN ZYG, Fynn RODGERS, Bradley STRUDWICK
Report by Fletcher Winning
Photo Courtesy of Pedro Garcia