Sport Writer Robbie Sweeten reports on UoB Men’s Football’s latest game in partnership with Birmingham Tigers in the Birmingham AFA League
Birmingham Tigers UoB came out on the losing side in a riveting eight-goal thriller against Norton Canes in Division 2 of the Birmingham AFA League.
The university Men’s Football Team teamed up with Birmingham Tigers to enter a team into the local Saturday league. This gives the players the opportunity to play competitively on weekends, which is even more important given that BUCS fixtures will not start until at least semester two.
The team, consisting of players from the club’s various squads, came into the match unbeaten against league leaders Norton Canes.
The Tigers took a promising 3-0 lead in the first 35 minutes with goals courtesy of Will MacKintosh, Alex Rose-Senior, and an unfortunate deflection for the third.
But with ten minutes remaining until the half-time whistle, Norton Canes clawed back after a string of UoB mistakes. They struck twice in quick succession to put the game’s momentum firmly in their hands.
In the second half, Norton Canes picked up where they left off, scoring twice in the opening 10 minutes and capitalising once more on careless Tigers’ mistakes.
For the remainder of the half, with the score at 4-3, UoB began to see more of the ball but to little avail.
With just 20 minutes to go, the Tigers were reduced to ten men after an injury suffered to one of their players and no available substitutes able to take his place.
But Norton Canes closed out the game professionally; they remained solid at the back and in the press, preventing UoB from creating any real chances.
That was until the very last minutes of the game when the Tigers won themselves a crucial corner.
With the final whistle only minutes away, the UoB goalkeeper joined the penalty box to fight for a coveted equaliser and make amends for the team’s nonchalance earlier in the game.
The first of the two corners was cleared off the line. The second, however, led to very last goal of the game: Norton Canes’ fifth goal, converted from a counter-attack and the striker had an empty goal to aim at.
With games in hand over the teams above them, the result leaves the Tigers in ninth place, having accumulated four points in their first three games.
After such an auspicious start to the game, the Tigers’ fill-in player-coach, James Tullett, told Redbrick that the result was ‘disappointing’.
‘After one mistake [leading to the first goal], the players started panicking a little bit.’
Some of the players also believed that the players became ‘shaky’ after Norton Canes’ first goal, and strayed away from playing their own brand of football.
With the team’s usual coaches Angus Robinson and Dominic Boyes being unavailable for today’s game, it was felt among the players that their absence on the sideline was sorely missed.
In what is still the early stages of the season, the Tigers have a lot to look forward to and lessons to be taken from their enthralling clash with the current table-toppers.
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