International call ups and work commitments meant that a very inexperienced tournament squad played in the Birmingham regional qualifiers of the FA People’s Cup at Star City on Saturday afternoon, only Captain Paul “Pod” Wilson and Gareth Edwards had appeared in BWFC colours before with Damian Mohan, Milan Mazic, Franco Fararrin and Mark Avrill making their debuts with veteran 78 year old Alan Bailey kitted up in case of injury, only 4 teams entered this year so 3 games of 20 minutes followed with the top team qualifying for the next round, in the 1st game against the Wolves Foundation the squad got used to each other’s play and once Pod found the bottom corner from a clever free kick routine the team eased to a 3-0 victory.
The 2nd game against The Roof Top Rascals proved to be a very one-sided affair with the Blues running out 11-0 victors, a complete team performance backstopped with a couple of fine saves by Damian Mohan and quality finishing from Mark Avrill and Milan Mazic.
These results meant that we met last year’s National finalists, Pele Pearls, to decide who progressed, needing only a draw to qualify on goal difference the Blues found themselves 1-0 down early on after getting caught cold from the ko. The Pearls fielding a number of ex pro players doubled their lead before Mark Avrill pulled one back following a fine move involving impressive defender Franco Fararrin and Pod, a case of mistaken identity led to Pod been sent off for 2 minutes, and during this time the Pearls scored another 2 goals, the Blues tried everything they knew to get back into it with a number of chances coming their way, the busy Gareth Edwards was particularly unlucky not to score when his fine drive was tipped over, the final 4-1 score line flattered the Pearls but the Blues can hold their heads high.
Manager Ian Gough said,
“I am very proud of the whole squad, the guys haven’t played together before and to have 4 players making their tournament debuts makes the results even more impressive. Pele’s Pearls will go a long way in the tournament again this year so there is no shame in losing to them in the final”.
Mark Avrill 6
Milan Mazic 6
Paul “Pod” Wilson 3