AFC Bluebirds is a five-a-side team made up of players from across Westminster. The team are proudly sponsored by Conservative Home.

by Geoffrey Taunton-Collins (pictured right)

TAUNTON-COLLINS GeoffreyOn Sunday, ConservativeHome-sponsored AFC Bluebirds earned an encouraging victory against their Sunday League opponents Podge FC to take us to third in the league. The 3-2 scoreline was an apt reflection of a turbulent game which turned during a clinical ten-minute Bluebirds’ spell early in the second half during which we scored all three of our goals.

The game got off to a slow start with both defences having the upper hand. The ball spent much of its time evading midfielders or going off the pitch for throw-ins or goal kicks. As one Podge FC onlooker wearily observed:”‘if this game was on TV it wouldn’t have many first half highlights”. This frustrating impasse came to end when (the rather aptly named) Podge FC broke the deadlock on the half an hour mark. I hesitate to admit that yours truly was distracted at this crucial moment by a passing (and very friendly) Alsatian and missed the goal. However, by the time I looked up the ball had nestled neatly in the bottom corner and from what I have since gathered I can confirm this was the result of a speculative long-range effort.

With half-time came a period of soul-searching (not least from your periodically distracted author) and some shrewd tactical changes saw a marked shift in the pattern of play. The Bluebirds’ manager Kevin Evans pushed the excellent Ed Winfield from right back to center half and moved Chris Rees further up the field to center forward. Both decisions were to prove pivotal in the second half.

The game was won before an hour had passed from two set pieces and a goal line scramble. The first came in the 55th minute as Will McCann drew a free kick running down the wing with typically industrious dribbling. Geoffrey Taunton-Collins crossed the ensuing set piece into a promising area, so promising in fact that a Podge FC defender saw no option but to glance it into his own net! It was one nil and a very encouraging moment for the Bluebirds.

The second goal also came from a free kick won by McCann about 35 yards out, only this time it was on the right hand side of the field. Taunton-Collins put in another good ball which found its way to the far post, where Rees met it with a thumping header. Podge FC were deflated but things were not about to get any better for them.

Having received a through ball down the left McCann was once again the architect of the opening that was to lead to the Bluebirds’ third goal. He went past a defender just inside the box and shot across the goal only for their ‘keeper to tip it acrobatically on to the bar. Rees was, however, once again too sharp for the Podge FC defence, and following a fortunate bounce from the rebound managed to poke the ball in for his second of the afternoon.

For the remainder of the game the Bluebirds endured Podge FC pressure with robust and well organized defending. Their second (and ultimately, merely consolatory) goal came two minutes from time with an unfortunate handball by Tim Smith inside the area which was slotted down the middle by the Podge FC penalty taker. This penalty decision came 10 minutes after a most unorthodox piece of refereeing: the official gave a free kick outside the penalty area for a fair tackle that had happened inside the area. Notwithstanding complaints from both sides about the decision it ended up being inconsequential as the free kick was then wasted by the Bluebirds’ opponents.

Overall, Podge FC enjoyed longer but less convincing spells of superiority during the game – ultimately the Bluebirds were the more effective team in front of goal and deserved to take the three points. We can now look forward with optimism to our next game, a crucial clash against Riverside United who are one point below us in the table.

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