Falcons crashed out of the GFSN Cup after losing 3-2 at home to Birmingham Blaze.
The usual trials and tribulations of travelling for an away game reared its head for the visitors as they arrived late and with only 10 men for the first 15 minutes. Falcons, missing a couple of recently-departed players (from the club rather than from the planet), gave Andrew a full debut in defence while Kieran shifted over to the left wing.
Although the first half was dominated by Falcons, it was the visitors who had the first major chance, latching onto a loose ball in the box before firing over after just a minute. However, from there on in there was some terrific football from the home side with terrific passing and movement across the team. Pete saw his overhead kick saved by the goalkeeper before Louis and Chris both fired wide. On 20 minutes the deadlock was broken. Pete’s freekick hit Chris on the thigh and the ball looped up in the air to allow Elliot to score with a header. A well-worked training ground set piece!
Further chances continued to be created as Pete hit the bar, Louis headed wide and Kieran saw a fine attempt saved. Birmingham’s strategy was a little more direct, going long on every opportunity and hoping to pick up on second balls. Fortunately, the defence held firm and restricted their chances to a minimum. However, right on half time they were handed a lifeline when a shot his Jack’s outstretched hand in the box and the referee awarded a penalty. Conal got his fingertips to the spotkick but the shot went in and we went into the break wondering how on earth the scorelines were level.
Sadly Brady’s involvement in the game came to an end as injury stopped our midfield destroyer from carrying on but this allowed Duncan to get 45 minutes in his preferred position. Falcons continued to create good chances in the opening 15 minutes of the second half but became wasteful. Chris went through one-on-one but failed to hit the target, Kieran found the side netting, John’s chip attempt went wide and Louis saw a header cleared off the line. Birmingham, though, were far more clinical. Their second and third goals can only be described as clusterf*cks. Certainly nothing to make an end of season highlights reel but the visitors certainly took their chances well and a 1-0 lead had turned into a 3-1 deficit in the space of 20 minutes.
Francesco came to the pitch on 65 minutes and immediately made an impact, winning a penalty for a barge in the back. Pete, who had been preaching the virtues of not missing the target from spot kicks the weekend before, promptly blasted the ball so far over the bar there was a risk of air traffic control needing to be alerted.
There was a general feeling that this was one of those days but Falcons kept the game alive on 75 minutes by halving the deficit. Pete’s cross from the right found Duncan at the back post and he became the second Yorkshire boy to head in a goal.
Things got more end-to-end in the last 10 minutes as Falcons pushed more numbers forward and Birmingham found more space but couldn’t quite deliver the knockout blow. Then, in the final minute, Elliot was put through one-on-one with a chance to equalise but the Birmingham goalkeeper came to the rescue to see his side over the line and send the Midlands team through the quarter finals.
This really was a case of one of those days. On another Sunday it could easily have been 7 or 8 goals to the Falcons but we didn’t take our chances and so need to be a bit more clinical in the coming weeks. Our congratulations go to Birmingham who could well be back down in the capital for the quarter finals in December.
Post-match, we all had some enjoyment at Olu’s expense as the rest of the club and Birmingham’s Matt enjoyed Jose getting a sound thrashing at his former club. Things then descended quite quickly as the drinking moved on to the Brewers for a friendly game of cock or bollock over a few shots.
Our next game is at home to London Romans when we face the league champions on Sunday.
Squad: Conal, Jack, Elliot, Andrew, Kieran, Pete, Brady, John, Alex, Chris, Louis
Subs: Dave, Francesco, Duncan
Scorers: Elliot, Duncan