Sport Editor Alex Alton reports on UoB Men’s Football 1’s frustrating draw with Nottingham Trent on BUCS Wednesday
Another week, another chance for Birmingham Men’s 1sts to showcase their attractive passing football on the bowling green that is Metchley 3G.
With the game kicking off at 18.00 on Wednesday evening, the floodlights were on, with both teams raring to go. The match started with a slight hiccup, as the referee decided there was too much of a clash between the red of Birmingham and the pink of Nottingham Trent. He made the executive decision to make one team wear bibs, strangely making the home side put them on. Following that slight delay to proceedings, the game kicked off in full flow with Birmingham very much picking up from where they left off. With a discernible frost in the air, both sides were keen to get moving and this showed early on as the game kicked off in ferocious tempo.
Not too much came of the game until the latter stages of the first half, despite Birmingham showcasing their passing style with an added focus on passing the ball out from the back. Nottingham Trent on the other hand, were more reminiscent of Tony Pulis’ Stoke side, utilising a big target man and an interesting drop kick technique from their keeper which could reach the opposition box. So, it was clear that both sides played contrasting styles and were looking to make their mark on the game. With Nottingham the league leaders standing on 13 points after 6 games, it was surprising to see them not being the side playing with a swashbuckling style. However, each to their own, and it is obvious that the East Midlands side had had some success with this style so far.
The first real opportunity in the game did come for Nottingham, too. On the 32nd minute, the ball came loose at the edge of the box and a Nottingham midfielder unleashed a drive to the left corner that James Philps expertly saved. From the resulting corner, Philps spilled the ball which was luckily swept away from immediate danger by his defence. Following this clearance, the Trent full back whipped in a ball which took a deflection off the foot of Ben Roberts. The ball flew up in the air and fell at the back post to the feet of the Nottingham centre half who duly studded the ball into an unguarded goal. Birmingham responded to this quickly, though. On the 38th minute, Ayo Adebajo whipped in a great corner which Matt Rudolph stuck away with a great header.
The centre midfield made a great connection with the ball and added power on the initial cross. Two minutes later, Birmingham completed a swift turnaround from another dead ball situation. The ball was lofted in and Jacob Carter got a head on it, hitting the bar in the process. With the ball bouncing down from the crossbar, Elliott Reeves was first to respond and slotted the ball in. A great response from Birmingham. A frantic end to the second half was completed when the Nottingham winger failed to convert from all of 2 yards after the ball was put on a plate for him. Hard to live that one down…
After the break, the game seemed to settle down. Birmingham were still looking to pass the ball around and extend their lead to 3. In the 58th minute, though, the game was level again following what seemed to be miscommunication between keeper Philps and captain Nitin Mishra. The ball was played out from the back to Mishra, who was immediately put under pressure by a Nottingham forward, who stole in and tapped the ball home. Birmingham must have been kicking themselves at this point, for all of their endeavour at the end of the first half had been undone. As for the rest of the game, there was not too much action. Birmingham remained threatening, with a few crosses causing the opposition keeper trouble. Besides that though, neither side looked like winning the game, with Nottingham seemingly focused on complaining to the referee at every opportunity.
At full time, it would be fair to say that Birmingham could be frustrated with the result. It was a good performance that deserved the win against league leaders Nottingham, although it was not to be.
Man of the match for this game goes to Elliott Reeves. The winger, who was playing up top for long periods in the game really frightened the Nottingham Trent defence with his pace and directness.