Birmingham Whites took a strong squad to the Staffordshire Walking Football tournament.
The team had been placed in a group with Stone, Port Vale, Senior Spireites and Coleshill. The top two teams would qualify for the semi- finals, so a good start was required against a Spireites side who had already warmed up against Stone.
Birmingham soon took control of the game with clever inter-passing in the opposition half. Several chances were created but shooting was a little wayward. A clinical strike by frontman Milan was the sole score in a game which did not reflect Whites’ dominance. 1-0 and points on the board.
The second game against Port Vale underlined Birmingham’s superior skills and their ability to create chances in confined spaces. Shots from every outfield player rained down on the Vale goal with the woodwork and excellent shot-stopping keeping the brummies at bay. However, in the last few minutes, playmaker Buttons managed to find space on the edge of the box and fired a crisp shot beyond the keeper to secure another 1-0 success.
A tougher match awaited in the third game when Coleshill Strollers were the opponents. A tight encounter followed between two well organised teams and although there were chances at both ends, Milan’s unfortunate penalty miss was the closest either team came to breaking the deadlock. 0-0 meant that a draw in the last group game against Stone would probably be enough for progression to the semis.
Stone were duly dispatched 2-0 with a double from Rob, both shots from wide on the right.
Qualification was duly accomplished with an impressive played 4, won 3, drawn 1 record. No goals had been conceded which outlined the defensive masterclass on display from skipper Franco, backed up by Andy and saves by Mike ‘the Puma’ Taylor. Chesterton were next up in the semi-final.
Chances were at a premium and despite the midfield promptings of Pod and Paul, Birmingham were unable to make the required breakthrough. Pod’s fine drive late on agonisingly hit the post and an excellent save from Mike in the dying minutes denied Chesterton.
The exciting sudden death shoot out saw the first 8 penalties scored. When Chesterton failed with the next kick, Rob had the chance to secure a place in the final but unfortunately his effort was saved. Chesterton secured their place in the final with a save against Mike Taylor Lane’s first penalty kick of the match.
So, Birmingham Whites’ Staffordshire adventure came to an end. This was truly a fine team effort with every player having a positive impact on matches. The passing, movement and shooting from the front three – Pod, Milan and Buttons – was impressive. Andy’s distribution and dynamism was missed in the semi after he picked up a calf injury and Paul’s tireless running contributed to Whites’ ability to ‘close out’ games. Mike made some really classic saves at crucial times in games and Franco showed great leadership in making key interventions and tackles when opponents tried to take control of games.
An enjoyable day in the Potteries but ultimately Birmingham came up short, once more, in the cruellest of circumstances.