Physical would be the best way to describe this clash between Birmingham Seconds and Oxford Firsts at the Metchley Sports fields on Wednesday. The 3-1 loss comes as the second of the season for Birmingham, after losing 2-0 away in their previous fixture against Worcester.
Birmingham looked on top after a scrappy first ten minutes of long balls and route one football from Oxford. After this, Birmingham were able to get the ball on the floor and build pressure on Oxford using quick passing in the midfield, and making the most of the pace mis-match between Robbie Murphy (Birmingham’s right winger) and the Oxford wing-back.
Despite this pressure, Oxford had the ball in the back of the net first after Birmingham failed to pick up the near post runner from a long throw in, who flicked on to the back post, where the ball was bundled home, only for it to be dis-allowed for off-side.
This, a wake up call for Birmingham, prompted a fresh bout of pressure in and around the Oxford box, culminating in Murphy again getting in behind and driving a low shot towards the near post, only for it to be saved. Soon after however, a loose ball down the left hand side was collected by the Birmingham front man, Bogdan Codorean, who expertly improvised a left-foot, half volley cross that was calmly headed into the bottom corner by Murphy, who finally got a reward for his hard work.
However, that old cliche that you’re most vulnerable just after you’ve scored was true here, as Oxford managed to equalise through their own winger, who cut in onto his right, driving a shot towards Dan Leach’s near post who, despite getting a hand to the ball, couldn’t keep it out.
Oxford then scored again just before half time, after Birmingham again failed to pick up the near post runner, this time from a corner, and Birmingham went in at the break a goal down.
The second half was uneventful, but for a deft chip from Oxford’s number 10 to make it 3-1 just after the break. Oxford then shut up shop and Birmingham were unable to break them down, thanks mainly to the back three formation that Oxford employed which, despite looking vulnerable on the counter, did the job defensively.