IMPRESSIVE BLUES PAY THE PENALY
Birmingham’s Over 50’s impressed on Sunday in the final of the Peoples Cup and left the competition as the country’s only unbeaten team. Having reached the final stage of the Peoples Cup for the third consecutive year hopes were high as Birmingham we able to field their strongest ever squad. All six teams were to play each other in a round robin format and the top four were to qualify for the semi finals. In a frantic start Birmingham drew 3-3 with an impressive Leeds side after taking a 1-0 lead through Dave Norton early on goals were exchange at regular intervals with Mike Milligan and David Wright also getting on the score sheet. Their next fixture against Wokingham also proved to be a goal fest, but Birmingham never really looked in danger as they ended up 3-2 winners with goals from Norton 2 and Darren Bradley sliding in the winner. Needing only one more win from their last three games to qualify , the slick Brummies relaxed and were more compact , 2-0 victories over Plymouth and Manchester City and a 1-0 win against Bedford, as Bradley and Dave Castle kept opposition forwards at bay goals from Norton, Milligan , Bradley and Andrew Struthers, confirmed Birmingham as Group winners and a semi final place against fourth placed Wokingham.
The semi final started disastrously for Birmingham as with three minutes gone they found themselves 2-0 down, Norton had gone close with two well saved efforts and Wright had hit the bar, before both scored to make it 2-2 . Birmingham pressed as the clock ticked down, there only looked to be one winner as shots reigned in on the Wokingham keeper, with 10 seconds left Wokingham broke away and Les Dawson made a fine save and the game went to penalties. Unfortunately Birmingham’s long journey in the competition ended here as Wokingham ran out winners 3-2 on penalties, The Blues record of P 17 W 14 D3 L 0 should have bee enough to bring home the silverware.
After the game Manager Paul Murtagh commented , “I just can’t believe it, I’m gutted again, I know we were the best team here today and all the lads did the club proud, you need a little bit of luck to win these big tournaments and lady luck was just not with us in the end, To get so far, not lose a game and fall at the final hurdle again, is gut wrenching. We have to learn from it and move on, we are learning more each tournament about each other and our capabilities, as I say we need to get back in the saddle as soon as possible and next Sunday at Chesterton, gives us that chance”