Alex Alton reports on a tough afternoon for the Birmingham Mens Firsts Football team as the spoils are shared in their match against Durham
On Wednesday afternoon, Birmingham Men’s 1sts faced a tough challenge, facing then top Durham at 2.30pm on Metchley 3G. A windy, dark day hardly helped matters in the game, which saw a fair few errors purely down to the testing conditions. Nevertheless, the game started at a high tempo, with both sides looking to get the ball on the floor, as the aerial route was not a realistic option in this game. In the first 15 minutes, Birmingham had the better of chances, putting together a few flowing movements which displayed good team cohesion. This pressure eventually paid dividends, with Ollie Sitch bundling in an effort on the 26th minute. The goal came from a throw in on the right, with Birmingham displaying more of the passing football that had got them their foothold in the game. Nitin Mishra controlled the ball out of his feet perfectly to slide in Sitch, whose initial effort was saved. However, persistence paid for the striker.
Durham eventually got back into the game, though. They responded well to Birmingham taking the lead, with some nice play on the right hand side resulting in a cross towards the back post. Durham’s lanky number 9 finished the ball off expertly, placing the ball back across goal towards the keeper’s left. This showed great nous, as keeper James Philp would have definitely saved the shot had the striker hit the ball straight. At 30 minutes, the score stood 1-1.
Birmingham had some great chances to retake the lead before half time, with left winger Elliott Reeves showing tight control and dribbling to get off a shot which flashed just wide of the post in the 42nd minute. At this point it became apparent that the distribution skills of James Philp the goalkeeper were proving fruitful, with the Reeves chance resulting from a lofted pass from Philp.
Unfortunately for Birmingham though, Durham were the much more clinical side. They took the lead just before half time on the 45th minute, with their number 7 scoring a spectacular lofted goal. The goal was no doubt aided by the wind, yet it showed extreme skill to convert that kind of effort from 25 efforts. In added time, Ayo Adebajo almost equalised, picking the ball on the right hand side of the box, unleashing a left footed shot which hit the axel of the crossbar.
At half time, Birmingham would have felt extremely unlucky to be losing the game, having had the better of chances in the first half whilst playing some attractive football.
On the 61st minute came a moment of brilliance unprecedented in the game to that point. Right back Ben Roberts had delivered a solid performance to this point, but his talent really shone through in this moment. After a foul on the edge of the box, Roberts lined up to take the resulting free kick. Taking two steps forward, the defender unleashed a perfectly whipped shot over the Durham wall into the back of the net. The keeper had no chance to save (head to @redbricksport on Twitter to see our view of the goal). In all honesty, the goal would probably have won goal of the month in professional football.
As for the rest of the game, there were very few chances. Defender Jacob Carter’s blushes were spared on the 80th minute as he gave up possession on the halfway line. Luckily for him, the Durham substitute failed to take the ball past the goalkeeper.
All in all then, Birmingham would have been frustrated to not come away with a win from this game. Despite a lack of chances in the second half, they really dominated through their persistence with the passing game and playing the ball out from the back. Saying this, Durham were very clinical and showed flashes of great play throughout the game. Another point for Birmingham, which leaves them fourth in the Premier North with 9 points from 7 games. Next week, they are up against top of the league Nottingham Trent at Metchley 3G, 6pm kick off.