Balclutha unbeaten 2017 champions
Balclutha AFC retained it’s Division 2 title over the weekend in a hard fought match against Dunedin Technical.
Going into the game Clutha only needed a point to clinch the title after an unbeaten season had seen them jump to a five-point lead over Tech.
The opposition still had a game in hand, so would have had the opportunity to overtake the home team next week, had they won.
Early nerves were settled after three minutes when Mzamo Mhlatshana gave Balclutha the lead. Mhlatshana was able to head the ball into the net from a Jack Barraclough cross, despite having to dive away from goal to do so.
A vocal supporting crowd might argue the game should have been put beyond doubt in the first half, as not one, but two Balclutha goals from Cory Budge and Barraclough were disallowed for offside.
The first half ended 1-0 Clutha, with Technical having threatened very little and Clutha unable to convert their dominance into further goals.
Technical offered a little more on attack in the second half and created some chances, but caused goalkeeper Craig Dinnissin little trouble while Balclutha continued to make chances without capitalising on them.
Clutha may have been unlucky to have missed out on a penalty when the Tech keeper appeared to foul Barraclough.
Impressively it was Barraclough’s honesty and willingness to stay on his feet that saved the opposition.
This penalty oversight hurt more when Technical were awarded a penalty of their own with 10 minutes remaining - Mhlatshana the hero became villain after conceding the foul inexplicably.
Tech converted this, their first real chance of the game, to lead to a nervous finale - with Dunedin knowing a goal could turn the division tables on Clutha.
Thankfully Balclutha held firm and rounded out the game at 1-1.
There was still time for one true moment of sportsmanship.
Dunedin Technical formed a guard of honour to clap off the new champions led by a clearly emotional coach, Pete Honnan.
To say Pete has had the year from hell is an understatement, and this moment and trophy was a special tribute to a man who does so much for football in the town.
Balclutha AFC in homeground action against Dunedin Tech 3rds on Saturday.