Firsts V North Greenford Utd A-A

Balham delivered a superb performance against North Greenford United only for it to be cruelly cancelled out by the abandonment of the match. When the team’s went in at half time, with Balham 3-0 to the good, it seemed certain that all 3 points would go their way, but the second half would never get underway, owing to an unfortunate floodlight failure.
Until the game’s unlikely abandonment, Balham were in control of the game and looked sure to grab the win. The main man was once again Ibz Olutade. The Balham no. 9 opened the scoring in the tenth minute, with a rebound after James Gallagher hit the post with a well-hit effort from distance. Olutade notched again after the half-hour mark after a well worked move, only for it to be ruled out for offside against Tomasz Wocial in the build-up.
Even once the away side were aware of the threat Olutade posed, they were still powerless to stop him. A pass from Dan David split the North Greenford back line, and Olutade raced onto it before finishing with panache – this time, the goal stood.
The 3rd goal came just before half time and looked to have put the game to bed, and it was a goal worthy of winning any game. Arsen Ujkaj, dynamic as ever, won the ball in midfield and broke free.  He surged past two Greenford defenders at speed, kept his balance and possession of the ball under challenge from Kamal Akel, and kept his cool in front of goal.
It hadn’t all been plain sailing for the home side though. The first goal was strongly against the run of play, as Balham hardly touched the ball in the first 10 minutes. Even after the deadlock had been broken, the game was played at a steady pace. Both sides were sloppy in possession and cautious in their nature, whilst the referee’s refusal to play advantage and his tendency to spend long periods of time lecturing players did not help to encourage free flowing football.
When the teams emerged for the second half, it was definitely bright enough to play around half an hour of football, if not the whole second half. Yet as the referee delayed the restart to wait for the floodlights to come on, the light continued to fade, and eventually the decision was taken that the game should be abandoned.
The decision not to restart play was a big blow to Balham, because once they had found their rhythm they had started to play incredible football. One touch passing moves were on display every time the hosts had the ball, whilst every North Greenford offensive was broken down by the firm Balham defence, with Marco Erriu and captain Jake Henry particularly imperious.
Whilst it is undoubtedly very disappointing for Balham that their 3 well worked goals were all for nothing, the performance should be lauded. If they can deliver a similar display against Chertsey next week, they will be sure to take the win that perhaps unfairly eluded them this week.
Louis Ostrowski