By Craig Randall
London Falcons 3 - Birmingham Blaze 2
G.F.S.N. Cup - Preliminary Round • Sunday, 7thOctber, 2007 • London
In a game that didn't exactly inspire much skill, the same cannot be said for pure grit, determination and team spirit from the Falcons.
The game started off even with both teams battling out mostly in midfield, however after 10-15 minutes the much fancied host were caught sleeping when a ball fell to JP Kessler some 25 yards from goal and reacting on his strikers instinct hit a looping ball goalwards. Aaron Jameson was caught flapping at thin air as the ball land over him and nestled into the back of the net. That was to be Birmingham's one and only shot in that half whilst Falcons themselves had a few near chances, especially a James Edeki fierce drive which whistled over the crossbar. However at half time, London Falcons 0 Birmingham Blaze 1.
At half time we changed to a 4-4-2 as we were more than comfortable with 5 across the midfield enough to push that extra man up with Edeki and a few more chances followed. Birmingham started to get a few more chances as well with the impressive Craig Simpson causing trouble for the Falcons defence.
Midway through the second half, Dan Walton was judged to have won the ball unfairly in what seems a shoulder to shoulder challenge. The resulting free kick resulted in a second goal for JP Kessler who's glancing header flew past Jameson after a terrific swirling cross from Craig Simpson and the Birmingham guys were looking on to the meeting with Brighton Bandits at home, but Falcons had not yet started.
Nobody could say we passed or played exceptionally well today so it was difficult to see where we could use the substitutes. Deciding to take off Marshall and Patton and brought on Evans and Elliott to give some fresh feel to the game did the trick. The clock was ticking down and we're looking at 20-15 minutes to go and admittedly was not looking good.
Now let me tell you about this little terrior we got! Our Mr Gary Britnell who kindly agreed to do the linesman for the first half had already worked himself up into a frenzy and was yapping up and down the line dying to get on and probably symbolises exactly what got us through - pure passion and determination, so I thought... why not!?
Sacrificing defender Carpenter for Britnell we threw everything we had at the Birmingham defence and within minutes, Britnell had rifled a shot past the Birmingham goalkeeper from 10 yards out and got us back into the game. It was also Britnell's first goal for the club and what a time to get it.
That goal lifted the Falcons and gave us belief that we can get something out of this game. And so the flood gates opened and Birmingham were pushed back. Kieran Evans had begun causing trouble down the right wing and won a penalty a couple of minutes from time when he was judged to have been tripped. James Edeki cooly slotted the ball away for 2-2 and we were looking more like the team that destroyed Titans a month ago.
Extra time beckoned, however more Falcon pressure and a cross found Sam Elliott on the left side of attack in the dying minutes saw the number 9 hit the ball goalwards which beat the keeper and helped into his own net by a Birmingham defender saw the Falcons go wild in celebrations! Within 15-20 minutes we had turned what looked likely to be an embarrassing defeat at home to a major victory!
The whistle blew and on reflection that sometimes games can't be won on the old passing and beautiful football, but on pure old fashioned English pride and determination and today showed that even when we're not playing that well, we came up with the goods.
A shout out must go to Craig Simpson and the Birmingham Blaze. They played in terrific spirits, gave us a really difficult game and have come a very long way in the last year. Any team who thinks they are getting an easy game when they play them are going to be sadly mistaken.
To the Falcons, enjoy the victory and prepare yourselves for our next big adventure - vs Dagenham Motors at Staines Town Football Club on Wednesday.
images by James Dyke