Birmingham’s precarious position near the bottom of the table meant a win was vital against a Leeds Carnegie side who sit one place above them. On a bitterly cold and wet afternoon at the Metchley pitch, however, Birmingham never fully got into their stride and lost the game 0-1.
After a positive start, with a clear chance saved superbly by the Leeds keeper, created by some neat build up by Birmingham’s midfield, Leeds snatched what was to be the only goal of a very competitive game. The Leeds forward reacted first and pounced on the loose ball after an excellent save by Jess Myers in the home team’s goal. This certainly came against the run of play, as Birmingham had impressed with some searching passes and tricky wing play from Bracelli and Hall. But from then on, Leeds took control of the half, and reduced Birmingham to a few long range efforts that rarely troubled the keeper. Although neither team looked particularly dangerous in their attacking play, Leeds perhaps retained and moved the ball with greater purpose and speed, and went into half term with a deserved lead.
This pattern seemed to continue into the second half, as the home side wasted some opportunities due to some sloppy passing in the final third. The centre of midfield became particularly congested, and hopeful long balls into the space behind the defence were calmly dealt with by both defences. As the half drew on, Brum looked increasingly dynamic in their passing and the sharpness of their passes improved. Mannion, who moved into central midfield, controlled the tempo of Birmingham’s play as they searched for an equaliser, but once again, they lacked the clinical finish that would have brought them level.
With the game opening up in the closing stages, both teams had chances to score. Were it not for some brilliant saves from a hobbling Myers, who received a knock earlier in the game, Leeds would have enjoyed a greater lead. For Birmingham, the pace and skill of Hall was called upon more frequently, but the Leeds keeper pulled off key saves to maintain their slender advantage.
Birmingham can certainly feel frustrated by the final score. They offered a growing threat in attack, but they left it too late to recover from that early blip in concentration.