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Sun 10th November 2013 - Shield
North Birmingham Celtic 2 V 6 Bullets
Pitch : Moor Lane, B6 7AA
Match Report

Match Report – Sunday 10th November – North Birmingham Celtic vs Four Oaks Bullets


Firstly something I forgot to mention last week. Thanks for the net men, having to put the nets up twice and take them down twice, following our change of pitch. Much appreciated.

Bullets were back in shield action against North Birmingham Celtic, from the division below. NBC were five out of five in the league and had won their first shield game, so a difficult match against a confident team was expected. Bullets had to repair the damage of their first shield game, so had to up their level of performance to match the first few weeks of the season.

It was beautiful day and the Bullets had to contend with the sun in their eyes in the first half. The venue of Moor Lane provided a good playing surface and the pitch was big and flat, something that usually brings the best out of the team.

It was a fairly cagey start with both sides trying to establish themselves in the game. Neither side was dominating but it was clear that NBC were a threat going forward, especially out wide, with both wingers having pace and strength. This came to fruition for NBC, as Bullets were guilty of ball watching, when a ball was played in behind Max. Dan P was desperately trying to get across to cover but the winger was quick enough and strong enough to compose himself and fire past Luke. A goal behind after just five minutes was not the ideal start.

Bullets did start to settle down and apply some pressure to the NBC defence. Henry, as ever, was a willing runner and he was starting to cause problems down the left. Charlie and Dan S were starting to get some possession and were providing Henry with a steady flow of possession. This looked the likely source for a Bullets goal and so it proved. Dan S fed the ball down the left, Henry was onto it and used his pace and strength to get away from his marker. He crossed from the left, Ellis had made up a lot of ground from the right and he arrived on cue to control the ball, steady himself and volley into the net for the equaliser.

With the scores level both sides were looking to seize the initiative and it was a good battle in the midfield, with neither side giving an inch. Rajan certainly enjoys that side of the game and he was very effectively winning possession, which was allowing Charlie and Dan S some time on the ball. Both wide players Jack Wa and Ellis were posing a threat going forward but just as importantly they were helping their full backs out. The wide positions were the main source of danger from NBC but both Elliot C and Max were coping with the threat posed. If the defence was breached Dan P was displaying his covering qualities to full effect.

It is always good from a coaching perspective when something you work hard on in training, pays off on a match day. Well there was a lot of practising of corners on Saturday. Mind you they were struggling to score even when they were playing without defenders.  Would that pay dividends on a match day. First corner, Charlie our corner taker supreme, dumps the ball in the side netting. That was obviously to lull the opposition into a false sense of security, as the second corner was a wicked one. The keeper was all at sea and just managed to scramble it away for a corner on the other side. Third time lucky, you better believe it. A pinpoint ball, delivered perfectly onto Henry’s head, who gratefully accepted the chance, heading past the keeper, who did get a hand to the ball but had no chance of keeping it out. The Bullets had taken the lead on the stroke of half time.

It is always a good time to score a goal but if you sneak one just before the break it always feels better for the half time team talk. If you couple that with a goal in the first minute of the second half and everything looks rosy. That’s exactly what happened and the icing on the particular cake, was the quality of the goal. Ellis started the move with a strong and pacy run down the right. He cut the ball back into the box, where Jack Wa neatly laid the ball back into the path of Charlie. A wonderfully weighted first time ball behind the defence, was perfect for Henry to apply the finishing touch, in the form of a first time shot rifled into the far corner. A cracking all round goal, which was a pleasure to witness.

NBC had reshuffled their team for the second half and they were pushing more players forward. The weight of forward numbers was stretching the defence and Sam had to get across smartly to put the forward player under pressure when he looked to be in a dangerous position. Reuben had come on half time and he was in at right back, whilst the positional side of things is something new to master, Reuben more than makes up for that with his determination and tenacity in the tackle. He was harshly adjudged to have fouled the NBC player when he was tracking back in defence. The free kick fortunately came to nothing.

Bullets were playing some good passing football but their fourth goal came from a more direct route. Luke’s kick was flicked on by Charlie, Henry was through on goal only to be thwarted by a mixture of keeper and defender. From the resulting corner, Bullets increased their lead. Now in true Mr Wenger style I didn’t see the incident but the debate rages on, who did score the goal. Charlie’s corner again caused the keeper no end of problems, the ball dropped down, several players went for it, Ellis claimed the goal at the time but Henry was adamant that he got the final touch. To be continued….

NBC despite being behind kept coming forward, so the Bullets had to be fully switched on at the back. Sam and Dan P are forming a strong partnership at the heart of the defence, well supported by regular left back Elliot C. They all showed good levels of concentration and cleared the danger well, when called upon. The two central defenders had a hand in the Bullets fifth goal, Sam covering well before Dan P found Dan S. He played a ball down the left and no surprise Henry was onto it charging towards goal, Henry was blocked out but Dan S had tracked the run and was up in support. The ball fell invitingly just outside the box and he left fly, the ball unerringly finding the far corner, with the keeper left grasping at thin air. It was Dan S’s first goal for the Bullets. He nearly doubled his tally a few minutes later but was denied by a fine reflex save by the keeper.

If the corner practice had paid off in the game, then perhaps the practice of defending at free kicks would as well. Maybe not! In a rare moment of poor concentration and lack of decisiveness in the box, NBC had their second goal. With eight minutes to go could NBC get back into it, not this time as the Bullets were not dropping their level of performance and restored their four goal lead, when Henry ran onto Charlie’s chipped through ball, finding the bottom corner with his finish.

The shield campaign was back on the rails and it had been a most impressive victory against very decent opposition.

Dan S got the parents man of the match award for a fine all round performance. Forming an excellent partnership with Charlie in the centre of midfield, Dan S had his best game in a Bullets shirt, translating the sharpness in training into a match day performance, topped off by an excellent goal.

Elliot C won the manager’s man of the match, for another strong display at left back. It is not a position that anyone is suited to playing but Elliot C just gets on with it and his level of performance is always consistent. He was up against strong opponents and more than held his own.

Bullets face Hawkins in the league on Sunday, a tough game and vital given the current league positions. Victory and Bullets will be in a strong position to challenge for honours this season. They need to keep this level of performance up to do so.

A quick thank you for Jim and Steve at Saturday training, with both Coach and Manager missing, they stepped into the breach and it was a very good session, which transcended into the match day performance.

To end on the great goal debate. Henry was adamant it was his goal, saying he had never scored four in a match before, although Ellis countered that he had never scored two in a match before. It was suggested that they claim half each. That was quickly rejected. The remainder of the players were consulted but that ended up with half a dozen of them claiming it. No choice then, there is only one way to decide who scored – a game of rock, paper, scissors at training.


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