A cold Metchley afternoon was the scene for the University of Birmingham Men’s Football First XI’s 2-0 domination of the University of Loughborough seconds. A crowd of about fifty amassed at the sideline to cheer on the Birmingham boys, as they set out to ensure a positive start to their season against what were expected to be tricky opponents. However, being a first XI against a second XI, Birmingham were expected to come out on top. Such anticipation surrounded the game that a social media campaign on Facebook was started by the Birmingham side in order to secure a good attendance and a good atmosphere, and such was the feeling amongst the crowd.
The beginning of the game was the tightest passage of play of the day, with both sides pushing forward alternately, yet it would be a disservice to Birmingham to say that they did not, even at this early stage, have the upper hand. The cagey opening could, in part, be due to nerves – neither side were willing to commit themselves to an all-out attack in these early stages, with Birmingham particularly keen to continue the season undefeated after a 3-3 draw against Cambridge last week. After the initial nerves had subsided, Birmingham turned up the heat on this cold October afternoon.
Captain Seb Bowerman dominated down the left wing, causing trouble for the Coventry defence. An overhit free kick from Bowerman started the attack, the ball sent out again, yet a poor pass back from a Loughborough centre back led to a scrappy passage of play where Loughborough scrambled to rectify their defender’s error, but Bowerman shot past the sliding defenders, into the box and slotted the ball into the bottom left hand corner.
Birmingham never looked back. They swiftly capitalised on their 1-0 lead with another. A corner coming out to the penalty spot was struck sweetly by Matt Jones into the left hand side of the net, giving the keeper no time to move or react. Birmingham finished the first half with a commanding 2-0 lead.
The second half was a drier encounter than the first. Birmingham rarely ventured out of the Loughborough half for the first 25 minutes, but they were unable to clinch another goal despite their relentless attacking play. Two excellent free kicks from Jack Davies could easily have added to Birmingham’s tally but, credit where it’s due, Loughborough’s goalkeeper pulled off two world class saves – one save in particular, a headed effort destined for the top right corner of the goal only to be thwarted by a diving effort, was all that kept the difference between the sides two goals.
At this point I must discuss the referee. Personally, I think referees get too much stick, yet I could see how some was sent towards this particular official from the Loughborough camp. He appeared to view the game through Birmingham-tinted glasses and awarded a couple of yellow cards to Loughborough men – a particularly unjust one being issued for a clash of heads when both players were entitled to challenge for the ball, however the Loughborough man did not handle this stoppage of play well, perhaps also leading to this booking.
In the final ten minutes of the game Loughborough stepped up their play, involving one particular attempt where the Birmingham goalkeeper Jamie Weller had to rush out and meet the player outside the box, but when the Loughborough forward got the ball he chose to dribble the ball rather than shoot in what would have surely resulted in a goal. He lost the ball, and Loughborough’s late attack came to nothing, and the game concluded 2-0 to Birmingham.
It was a great game to watch and Birmingham showed class and domination throughout, thoroughly deserving the win. This win leaves them second in the BUCS Men’s Football 1A league on 4 points, behind the Worcester 1st XI on 6 points. There’s lots to be positive about for Birmingham, looking back at the game, and Captain Seb Bowerman was certainly the Man of the Match for his powerful performance down the left wing. A well-deserved win for Birmingham.
Mens Football 1st XI 2-0 Loughborough 2nd XI by Burnfm_Sport on Mixcloud