Women’s hockey smash their game against Loughborough while the men’s team secure a draw

Two successful matches against Loughborough

Trailing 2-1 entering the dying seconds of the match, a well worked Birmingham short corner routine provided Chris Way the opportunity to rifle home from the edge of the D, gifting Birmingham a vital point.

Having beaten Leeds 5-1 in their previous fixture, Birmingham knew Loughborough would provide a tougher test in their first home game of the season, and so it proved.

Talking tactics and getting fired up

Talking tactics pre-game

The opening phases were a tense affair, with neither side giving anything away.

However, after some early Loughborough pressure, it was Birmingham who created the first real opening of the game.

Captain Jonny Gooch dispossessed a Loughborough defender on halfway and quickly launched a counter-attack, sliding the ball through for Josh Kelly, who was met by the onrushing goalie.

This sparked a renewed surge from Loughborough, who forced Birmingham goalkeeper Dewi Roblin into a number of saves with his feet, and clipped the outside of the post with a deflected effort.

Birmingham ended the first half looking the stronger of the two sides though, with both Jonny Gooch and Ciaran O’Connell drawing diving saves to either side from the Loughborough keeper.

O'Connell tests the keeper

O’Connell tests the keeper

Yet despite Birmingham’s best efforts, halftime arrived with the scores still locked at 0-0.

Loughborough were the quicker team out of the blocks in the second half, and they took full advantage, getting on the scoresheet with just five minutes gone.

Determined not to let the game slip from their grasp, Birmingham increased their tempo and found a reply almost immediately. Rhodri Furlong drove into space down the left wing and delivered a bullet cross, which Dave Swarbrick angled superbly into the top corner.

As the game settled back into its usual rhythm, both sides went in desperate search of a winner, exchanging opportunities.

Loughborough looked to have secured the victory midway through the second half, slicing through the Birmingham defence to take the lead for the second time, leaving Birmingham’s hopes on a knife edge.

Short corner in the dying seconds

Short corner in the final seconds

Birmingham’s continued grit and determination eventually paid off however, with Chris Way finding the back of the net with a drag flick as time expired to level the scores.

The draw sees the firsts remain top of the Premier North Division after two games, with a trip away to third placed Durham next on the cards.

Full-time score: Birmingham 2-2 Loughborough

Cue the celebrations

Cue the celebrations

Women’s firsts put four past Loughborough to win in style

Meanwhile, in the earlier game Birmingham women’s firsts continued their barnstorming start to the season by romping to a 4-0 victory over Loughborough at the Bournbrook pitches.

The win ensures the firsts maintain their perfect record, and, more importantly, their perch at the top of the Premier North Division.

The key to success - the huddle

The huddle – the key to success

After a fairly even first 15 minutes against Loughborough, Birmingham’s quality began to tell, and Olivia Paige finished coolly to open the scoring for the home side.

Following a further period of sustained Birmingham pressure, Katelyn Aitchison capitalised and doubled the lead before halftime.

Despite entering halftime with a comfortable two goal cushion, Birmingham clearly had no intention of resting on their laurels.

Almost straight from push-back a darting attack down the right flank won a short corner, drawing the foul from the Loughborough player.

Ready to go

Ready to go

Instead of a taking an immediate strike at goal, the ball was spread left to Olivia Chilton, who confidently swept the ball past the keeper and defenders crowding the goal line, launching Birmingham into an unassailable three goal lead.

Soon after, Birmingham threatened again. Lily Owsley burst down the left-hand side and cut around the back of the defence, but a Loughborough defender got across to make the challenge just before she could get the shot away.

Loughborough failed to heed this warning, however, and a few minutes later Owsley – a 2014 Commonwealth Games silver medallist with England – set off on another mazy dribble, beating several defenders with her dazzling stick skills before clipping the ball over the oncoming keeper and into the back of the net to seal the victory.

The goals were flying in

High-fives all round

Full-time score: Birmingham  4-0 Loughborough

Photos by Rob Davis