Coleshill 0 V 1 Birmingham Blues
Birmingham Blues faced a stern challenge against a much-improved Coleshill team in their third Premier League fixture. A series of long-term injuries to key members of the squad (coupled with others being unavailable) meant that selection options were significantly limited. That said, the starting line-up featured very experienced players, who have played together regularly over the last three seasons.
Blues started the game very well. Coleshill were finding it difficult to gain any meaningful time on the ball, or even to keep hold of it for long enough to ease the mounting pressure on their defence. Birmingham’s high press was beginning to tell, and several unforced errors were made. It was from one such mistake that Mark Evans so nearly opened the scoring. Only a brilliant save prevented him from giving his side the perfect start. Moments later, Mark was denied again by more heroics from the Coleshill goalkeeper.
The importance of these saves soon became apparent as the tempo of the game began to slow. Coleshill then started to enjoy more control of the contest. This period saw a much more even affair. Birmingham had to work hard to prevent their opponents taking any sort of initiative. Blues went about this task efficiently, meaning that Coleshill were, on the whole, unable to create any real threat to Ross Everton’s goal. Ross, therefore, remained untroubled.
The first half petered out somewhat, but not before another effort from Birmingham was well saved. At the end of this half, Birmingham were left in no doubt that Coleshill had a well organised defensive set up. This meant attackers were tightly marked and very few gaps appeared for Birmingham’s offensive players to exploit.
The second period started in very much the same fashion as the first, with Coleshill able to keep Birmingham at bay relatively comfortably.
The game had become rather scrappy. Experienced referee Brian Webster had to intervene several times to calm proceedings down and allow some players time to regain their composure. He did this very well.
Birmingham Blues continued to play the more adventurous football. Roger Purchase played with assurance and confidence. His ability to read the game from the back was exceptional. He was ably supported by Alan Hodson’s powerhouse midfield play that drove the team on to get the breakthrough that, thus far, had proven to be elusive. Simon Krstic and Clive Macey worked tirelessly to break through Coleshill’s lines. A series of half chances came and went without being converted but to their credit the duo’s determination never diminished.
During this period of the game Blues had, to some extent, to proceed with caution as any successful penetration of their own defensive lines would have been extremely damaging. To that end, the part played by Malcolm Sutheran in both his defensive and offensive duties was particularly important.
Just as it was beginning to feel like Blues would have to settle for a single point, they enjoyed a slice of good fortune that most observers would have said, was no more than they deserved. Birmingham’s free kick in a dangerous position (for Coleshill) reached Mark Evans. This time he was not to be denied as his drive towards the goal took a wicked deflection to beat the wrong-footed goalkeeper. The ball nestled in the bottom of the net; at last Coleshill’s resistance as well as the stalemate had been broken.
There was still work to do for Birmingham as enough time remained for their opponents to respond. It was essential for everyone to take their time, keep the ball and remain in control. A one goal lead can be precarious – as time was ebbing away and any slip up would have dire consequences.
Sure enough, Coleshill did carve out a chance to equalize. But a wonderful, one handed, diving save to his left by Ross Everton protected his side’s advantage. It was a save that meant as much to the team as the goal they had scored earlier in the half.
After this scare Birmingham saw out the rest of the game with relative comfort to register a deserved and hard-fought victory against a good Coleshill team. Referee Brian Webster deserves credit for his performance especially for his clear explanations of his decisions throughout a competitive contest.