Bal­clutha un­beaten 2017 cham­pi­ons

Clutha Leader - - HOUSE AND GARDEN - FOOT­BALL CORRESPONDENT

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.

BRYCE REICHEL

Bal­clutha AFC in home­ground ac­tion against Dunedin Tech 3rds on Satur­day.

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