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B&S WFC Over 45’s Tournament – Cole Town FC


Game 1


Starting Line Up; Greg McNally, Mark Hill, John Atkins, Alan Deakin, Dean Thomas, Lee Murtagh, Steve Murtagh.


The first game of the group round of the tournament saw Birmingham Blues face Worcester WFC.


The Blues got off to a fine start with a couple of missed shots from Alan Deakin and Dean Thomas before Lee Murtagh went on a sublime dribble culminating in a slick finish to score.


Another fine dribble by Lee ended with a pass that was just too long for Dean Thomas. A couple of extra shots from Dean Thomas and Alan Deakin were followed by the first promising attack from Worcester which resulted in a comfortable save from Greg McNally.


Just before the ten-minute mark a long range shot from a Worcester player was deflected onto the angle with Greg reaching to cover the top corner. The resulting corner saw interplay on Birmingham’s left with a cross shot from Worcester being well parried to safety by Greg.


Wholesale changes were made midway through with Dean Thomas, Alan Deakin, Lee Murtagh and Steve Murtagh being substituted to give game time for Chris Etheridge, Chris Wren, Jonathan Fellows and Paul Lunham.


Soon after Greg McNally had to be alert, diving to his left when a clearance cannoned back off a Worcester player.


A fine move for Birmingham’s second saw a through pass from Chris Wren to Jonathan who sold the keeper, with a fainted shot from his right foot, before switching to his left to slot in.


It was now all Birmingham with several moves involving linked play between Chris Wren and Jonathan Fellows, with Chris Etheridge having a great shot that was saved.

The opponents were limited to few forays into the Birmingham half and inevitably ended up blasting over or wide from distance.


The Birmingham defence of Mark Hill and John Atkins held firm throughout with Greg McNally solid in protecting his net.


Final score 2-0 to Birmingham.




Game 2.


Starting Line Up; Greg McNally, Mark Hill, John Atkins, Alan Deakin, Chris Wren, Lee Murtagh, Steve Murtagh.


The second game saw Birmingham Blues take on Solihull Moors who provided an early scare firing one over.


All the battling was going on in midfield until a tackle from the side by a Birmingham defender gave Solihull Moors an opportunity from a good distance. The free kick led to a strong shot well save by Greg McNally diving to his left.


Another breakaway by Moors was wasted when the cross-field ball from Birmingham’s left found no one, going out on the opposite flank for a throwing. Some patient build up by Birmingham led to a shot from the left which went wide.


Mark Hill had a prominent period in defence, first forcing a Moors player into a pass that was intercepted, leading to a Birmingham breakaway, then making a tremendous block twenty yards from the Birmingham goal.


The halfway point saw Alan Deakin, Chris Wren, lee Murtagh and Steve Murtagh make way for Chris Etheridge, Dean Thomas, Jonathan Fellows and Paul Lunham.


A good interaction saw an intercepted pass from Moor’s keeper by Paul Lunham rebound to Dean Thomas with the pass back to Paul resulting in a snapshot which was well saved by the Moor’s goalie.


An interception at the back by John Atkins resulted in a long cross-field ball which Jonathan Fellows failed to collect as he slipped over in the process. The next attack from Moors saw a through ball scooped over the bar by the attacking player.


A promising attack by Birmingham was cut short when Dean Thomas was fouled, leading to a penalty, which Jonathan Atkins efficiently converted with a low shot to the keeper’s right.


Within a couple of minutes Chris Etheridge made it two, lifting his shot high into the net after a squeezed cross from the right.


Two great blocks/interceptions by Mark Hill allowed him to pull the ball across for Chris Etheridge to send the ball up to Dean Thomas in midfield.


The match was heading for a two-nil win for Birmingham until the last few seconds when a pass out from Moor’s keeper was followed up through the centre to the forward. His first shot was saved by Greg McNally, but the rebound came straight back, and the Moor’s forward lifted the ball over Greg, who was still on the ground after his dive.


Final score 2-1 to Birmingham



Game 3.


Starting Line Up; Greg McNally, Mark Hill, John Atkins, Alan Deakin, Dean Thomas, Lee Murtagh, Steve Murtagh.


The final game in the group matched Birmingham with Coventry Nomads

The initial stages between both teams seemed quite tentative, with very little creative action, until sparked into life by the early Birmingham goal.


Started by Alan Deakin the ball went up to Dean Thomas who carried it forwards until it came back to Alan who pushed it to Mark on the right. John Atkins was then involved a couple times ultimately threading the ball through to Dean Thomas who slotted it left for Steve Murtagh to hit the back of the net.


Almost immediately after the restart Greg McNally was called into action needing to come out to narrow the angle and block a shot by Coventry from a couple of yards outside his box.


Coventry had been having heated discussions between themselves all through the game and this came to a head when one of their players was blue carded, for not engaging with the ref when he had been repeatedly requested to do so. This left Birmingham with a one player advantage for the required penalty minutes.


It was still a very cagey affair with just a couple of long shots from Birmingham.


The halfway stage saw Alan Deakin, Dean Thomas, Lee Murtagh and Steve Murtagh rested to make way for Chris Etheridge, Chris Wren, Jonathan Fellows and Paul Lunham.


Early in the second part of the game a neat move ended with a shot from Jonathan fellows which was unsuccessful.


There was little happening in the forward areas, with Coventry and Birmingham Coventry midfield effectively cancelling each other out, until a Coventry player broke past the Birmingham defence with a couple of stepovers (at the limit of pace for walking) only for the shot to be well saved by Greg McNally, the ball spinning of his right leg around the goal’s left post for a corner. The kick resulted with a cross shot from Birmingham’s left which flashed across the goal with Greg clearly having it covered.

A free kick, taken by Mark Hill, was then received well by Chris Etheridge who produced a snapshot on the turn, which went wide.


A good move by Coventry resulted in a diagonal pass across Birmingham’s area towards another Coventry player but the chance was missed with the player producing an air shot as the ball went past.


Birmingham were clearly giving a little ground towards the end whilst protecting their lead. The penultimate final Coventry attack saw a straight pass hit on the turn across the goal but pulling outside of the far post.

One further chance arose for Coventry, with a return pass from a free kick being hit wide of the goal from a central position The referee blew for time before play resumption.


One nil saw Birmingham win the final game to maintain their hundred percent record and win their group.


Final score 1-0 to Birmingham



The Final


Starting Line Up; Greg McNally, Mark Hill, John Atkins, Alan Deakin, Dean Thomas, Lee Murtagh, Steve Murtagh.


The Final between Birmingham and Tamworth Strollers got off to a flying start. From the kick off Tamworth moved the ball down Birmingham’s right but gave away a free kick near the corner flag. The free kick went back to John Atkins who passed the ball across the full width of the pitch to Mark Hill who then returned the ball for John to send a long pass forward to Steve Murtagh who turned quickly and fired a shot goalwards which was well parried by the Tamworth keeper. However, the rebound was met by Lee Murtagh with a clinical finish to put Birmingham one up.


A pass out from Birmingham was intercepted by a Tamworth player who fired a high shot that was tipped over the bar by a flying save from Greg McNally, the referee clearly missing the save by giving a goal kick.


Another neat move up front for Birmingham saw a cross-field ball well taken by Alan Deakin who found Lee Steve Murtagh with a slotted pass, but the danger was averted before he could shoot by a timely tackle from Tamworth.


A rare fluid move by Tamworth resulted in a shot which was saved by Greg McNally with his legs.


Tamworth were starting to exert a bit of pressure for a period but Birmingham held firm with a series of interceptions and blocks. A shot was deflected overhead height to give a free kick not far outside Birmingham’s box. The free kick was slipped sideways and then back again to a Tamworth player who took an excellent left footed shot which ricocheted off the top of Birmingham’s crossbar.


Birmingham where being pressed back and contained in their defensive third but played some good possession between Alan Deakin, Mark Hill, John Atkins and Dean Thomas resulting in a pass into space to Steve Murtagh in the opponent’s half. Steve held the ball up well waiting for Lee Murtagh to arrive, but the cross-field pass was just too strong, running out for a throw in.


A wayward shot from Tamworth was deflected way over the bar which gave the opportunity for the mid match substitutions of Chris Etheridge, Chris Wren, Jonathan Fellows and Paul Lunham coming on for Alan Deakin, Dean Thomas, Lee Murtagh and Steve Murtagh.


Chris Wren was straight into the heat of the action, making a tremendous block on the edge of Birmingham’s area.


The game was becoming very bitty with Birmingham pulled up twice for running and a Tamworth shot from the halfway line going wide. John Atkins stood off a Tamworth player blocking his way through for several seconds before leaping in to steal the ball and thread it up field to Jonathan Fellows who turned, advanced round a Tamworth player and unleashed a ferocious left foot shot which, fortunately for the Tamworth keeper, was straight at him.


From a goal kick Birmingham worked the ball down the left before releasing Chris Wren

on the right with a cross-field pass. Chris looked a little off balance as he hit the shot which went high and wide.


As it was getting towards then end of the game Birmingham was stifling Tamworth, defending well, and blocking all routes towards goal, leaving the only options of long shots which were going wide. Even when Tamworth managed to break through to a reasonable shooting distance Greg was more than a match, diving to his right to parry a shot out for a corner. Paul Lunham harried the Tamworth players back from the flag kick eventually getting a tackle in.


Tamworth were now throwing caution to the wind as they pressed for a late equaliser, with Greg McNally once again saving from a Tamworth player’s shot on the turn.

John Atkins made another timely intervention on the edge of the Birmingham area, before interplay between Chris Etheridge, Paul Lunham and Mark Hill led to a ball to Chris Wren on the wing to cross it to Jonathan Fellows. Unfortunately, the ball appeared to bobble just as he was about to hit it, and the shot went skyward.

Another Tamworth shot on the turn from distance went wide before the referee blew the final whistle.


Final score 1-0 to Birmingham.




Tournament Overview.


This was the first true test for the Birmingham Blues over 45’s team, and they passed with flying colours, well exceeding expectation for a newly formed team.

Greg was totally dependable in goal and when called upon, made some great saves. John Atkins and Mark Hill were stalwarts in defence, continuously intercepting, blocking and passing out to the midfield.

The midfield players of Alan Deakin, Chris Etheridge, Chris Wren, Dean Thomas, Lee Murtagh and Paul Lunham worked well in a structured substitution system, which saw three changes midway through each match, giving a consistency in the centre which set up chances for the target forwards.

Equally, the front men Jonathan Atkins and Steve Murtagh interchanged at the same time as the midfield and produced an ongoing threat in the matches.

Considering the limited practice sessions, prior to the tournament, no one would have predicted that Birmingham Over 45’s would win every match at the tournament, lifting the trophy, but that is exactly what they accomplished.


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