Birmingham Over 60s ventured up north to play Matlock in the first round of the National TRA Cup and after battling through snowy weather were met with alien playing conditions with the game being played indoors with boards and very large goal areas. The format was three games of 20 minutes and 6 a side.
Birmingham started the first game with Les D in goal, Keith L and Paul Foster at the back with Paul Feeney and returning from injury. Steve Dixon in the middle and Dave W up front. It was clear that Matlock were a well drilled and organised team who were used to the pitch. The opening minutes were very tentative with both sides checking each other out and Matlock were first to strike with a strong shot evading Les in the very wide goals. Birmingham fought back and equalized when the keeper was unable to hold a powerful shot from Paul Feeney. The game remained close until Birmingham gave away a penalty for encroachment but the strong, low shot struck the post and rebounded to safety. Birmingham were still trying to adapt to the ball remaining in play at all times and were caught out when Matlock found space to hit home the winner.
Birmingham replaced Keith L and Paul Feeney with Roy W and Steve W for the second game and Matlock seemed stunned when Roy W gave Birmingham the lead when finding space near the goal. The game ebbed and flowed with Les making some excellent saves but Birmingham were undone by bad luck when a Matlock player shot wide but the ball rebounded off the back wall and hit Les on his back and rolled into the goal. Both sides pushed hard for the winner and despite some sterling work up front by Dave W, Birmingham were unable to carve out any clear cut chances. Matlock punished Birmingham when their striker was allowed space and he calmly slotted the ball into the corner of the net. Matlock played keep ball for the rest of the game and secured their second victory and passage into the next round.
The third game was still played. Matlock again prevailed with two good goals and some cracking saves by Les D.
The game was played in a good spirit with hardly a foul or running infringement and benefited from some consistent refereeing. Matlock were a good side with 2 ex professionals and surely will be difficult to beat with a home draw in the next round. Due to the nature of the pitch the games did feel more like 5 a side than walking football at times but Birmingham will hopefully learn from the experience particularly regarding ball retention and being patient. Thanks to all who travelled there and back in difficult conditions.
MATLOCK 2 V 1 BWFC
MATLOCK 2 V 1 BWFC
MATLOCK 2 V 0 BWFC