Following on from their victory in the first game of the season, the men’s hockey 1sts were keen to add to their 5-1 victory over Leeds last week against a difficult Loughborough side under the lights at Bournbrook.
It was a very cagey first half of the match, with both teams cancelling each other out and struggling to fully utilise possession. It was Loughborough who seemed to have more of the ball in the opening exchanges but they couldn’t manage to turn their early pressure into goals. Birmingham had the first clear cut chance after Josh Kelly and Jonny Gooch countered but the Loughborough ‘keeper did well to stop their advances.
Both teams enjoyed spells in which they dominated possession but neither could make it count, no real clear cut chances were made in the first half. That was until Birmingham got a short corner, as a result of the ball hitting a Loughborough player’s foot. However, the Lions could not capitalise and the Loughborough keeper managed to save the shot.
It’s fair to say that the second half was considerably more open, and more clear-cut chances were created. The first of which was when Rhodri Furlong dispossessed a Loughborough defender, giving the Lions a 3-on-1 counter attack, however the cross was not met with the desired finish. The first goal of the game was scored ten minutes into the half. There was a scramble in the Birmingham D, and, after a lucky deflection, Loughborough’s striker was able to walk the ball into an empty net.
The lead did not last long, however, as Birmingham came forward down the left flank, Rhodri Furlong crossed the ball into the box, in an area that defenders and ‘keepers hate. A lovely sliding finish from Dave Swarbrick into the roof of the net meant that parity was restored. This was followed by a period of the game where there were only half-chances, in which both teams failed to take. It increasingly seemed like it would take a mistake or a piece of brilliance to separation the sides.
With around 15 minutes to go Loughborough get a short-corner, in which their number 30 converts, an unstoppable shot for the Lions’ ‘keeper Roblin. Shortly after this, Ciaran O’Connell got sin binned for what the referee perceived to be as a bad tackle, however, from the spectators point of view, it seemed that he slipped.
Within the final exchanges of the game, Birmingham were pressing for the win, a few chances were spurred and it seemed that they were chasing a lost cause. However, with 10 seconds left on the clock Birmingham won a short-corner. A nervy crowd awaited the corner, the last play of the game. Captain Jonny Gooch sets it up for Chris Way who rifles it home, turns to the crowd with his arms spread wide. 2-2 it finishes in the most dramatic of circumstances, neither team did well enough in front of goal to deserve the victory.
After the game, we spoke to Dewi Roblin. Asked on his opinion of the game, he said: “It was a scrappy game, we didn’t play our best but it was a hard-fought draw”, a very fair reflection of the match.