Sport Editor Olli Meek reports on Birmingham Women’s Football 1s defeat to Durham in BUCS
A new metric for testing football players was initiated during the Women’s Firsts Football teams loss to Durham.
Out with the “can they do it on a wet Tuesday night in Stoke,” and in with “can they do it on a blustery Wednesday afternoon at Metchley.” With no way to prepare for this on a training pitch and no impact substitution that would alter the conditions, both teams were in for a tough game from the off, regardless of the performance of the opposition.
The pitch was slow, and when the ball was dragging on the ground it offered an awkward juxtaposition to the speed with which the wind propelled it through the air in aerial exchanges. The first half started in a controlled manner, each team finding their feet and trying to establish some form of consistency, however this was challenging and possession was consistently changing hands between the two sides. Birmingham set up solid foundations with four at the back, whereas Durham opted for a three, both sides looking initially comfortable with their respective game-plans.
It was Birmingham who drew first blood, springing the game into life just prior to half-time when Caitlin Wilson flicked the ball into the box for Jess Howard to take it down on her chest and fire home a half-volley to put the Lions 1-0 up. This was to be how the first half finished, a positive standing for UoB to take into the break, but by no means in control of the tie.
The second half began in a scrappy and inconsistent manner, similar to the first, and Durham had more of the possession than Birmingham were comfortable with. This pressure eventually paid off for the visitors, when an attempted clearance from goalkeeper Collette Bell cannoned into the onrushing Durham attacker and bobbled into the Birmingham net- this was not an ideal introduction to the second half for Birmingham, and the newly-found parity inspired a new confidence in the team from the North-East.
Birmingham fought back, winding runs from the midfield causing the Durham defence all kinds of problems, and resulting in multiple corners, but no score. Unfortunately for Birmingham, halfway through the second-half Durham scored again. Patient build up play ended up with what was, in truth, a pass into the corner from the edge of the penalty area – it looked to be a sucker punch even only at 2-1. After the first Durham goal Birmingham looked deflated, they now developed into a state of lacklustre. This proved to be the last influential action of the half, and despite Birmingham’s best efforts, the score remained at 1-2 until the final whistle.
This loss leaves Birmingham in mid-table 4th position in the league on 8 points from 8 games, with Durham cementing their place at the top of the league on 21 points from their 100% win rate.