Birmingham and Nottingham played an intense and bruising affair to finish 1-1 on the Bournbrook pitches in front of a raucous partisan crowd. On a bracing October evening, physicality overcame skill as both sides’ creative instincts were smothered by impressive defences as they had to settle for a draw, despite Nottingham leading for the majority of the match, only to be pegged back by a clinical last-minute equaliser.
Birmingham would have felt aggrieved to go in to the half time break a goal down after looking dangerous for vast swathes of the half. The left-hand side was a frequent avenue for attacks and the fact they were unable to score was a testament to both misfortune coinciding with brilliant last ditch defending. To Nottingham’s credit, they took their chance and slotted away a breakaway finish after a sharp change of pace in the midfield opened UoB’s defence up. A foul in midfield was quickly taken and the ball was whipped into the net in a flash, a lethal response and a rare moment of real quality in an otherwise tight affair. The first half seemed to peter out with both sides eager to get to the halfway point and the last few minutes were largely an exercise in maintaining possession and shape with neither side willing to take too many risks. Ultimately, the Lions were unfortunate heading into half time a goal down but Nottingham’s defence was resilient.
The second half saw frequent changes in momentum, with Nottingham, seemingly buoyed by their sharply taken goal, creating early chances before the Lions reasserted their control. All that was missing from Birmingham’s improving half was a goal, being frequently denied by sharp goalkeeping as penalty corners came and went without an equaliser. The fixture looked to be heading towards a disappointing conclusion when a rare moment of quality lit up the closing stages. A penalty corner was finally dispatched with a low finish past the Nottingham goalkeeper to spark scenes of joy and jubilation amongst the players and fans.
Neither side will be too disappointed with the result in a game full of endeavour but lacking in moments of brilliance. Birmingham Hockey firsts will look forward to carrying on their season shortly and will look to build upon the promising start that they have made.