Luke Webster is a Parliamentary researcher
This week saw the Bluebirds take a win, a draw and a loss in three closely-contested games settled by no more than a goal. Despite an agonising finish for the 11-a-side team, there were good performances from both teams in the five-a-side competition, ending the season fourth and sixth in their respective leagues. Bluebirds are guaranteed to return to the five-a-side pitch next season (read next week), but at the time of writing Twobirds’ fate hangs in the balance: a democratic process is underway to decide the team’s future.
For the second week running, the Bluebirds lined up against a team enjoying a strong run of form. The aptly-named Hurricanes proved formidable opponents, in a match dominated by powerful cross-winds that saw both sides struggling to keep the ball down and under control.
From the early minutes of the game it was clear that, if either member of the crowd had hoped to see a high-scoring game, this wasn’t going to be it. Few breakaway chances were created at either end, with the Bluebirds soaking up the pressure for most of the first half. A deft run into the box from Will McCann produced the best moment of the opening period, with some last-gasp defending all that prevented Geoff Taunton-Collins from putting Bluebirds in front. However, it remained goalless at the whistle.
With eleven Bluebirds back on the pitch (and one en route to A&E with a dislocated finger), the second half was every bit as hard fought as the first. An outstanding defensive performance from Dan Hooper and safe hands from goalkeeper Joe Cawley maintained composure at the back, but the Blues struggled to build momentum going forward.
As the clock wound down, neither side looked likely to break the deadlock. Then disaster struck. In a truly harrowing reminder that Sunday league games produce the most inexplicable goals, a strong wind carried a corner ball through a crowded penalty area to nestle in the bottom of the Bluebirds net. It was a disappointing conclusion to the match, leaving the Bluebirds more determined than ever to claim a decisive victory next week.
Undeterred by the gravity of playing in what could be Twobirds’ final game, the team put in a determined effort whilst struggling to dominate the early part of the match. Excellent goalkeeping kept the contest alive, and the opposition found themselves harried at every twist and turn by the indefatigable Ravi Sodha. Thus began a courageous fightback, and with just minutes left the Bluebirds took the lead through a calmly dispatched Geoff Taunton-Collins penalty. Only an unfortunate late equaliser denied a memorable victory.
Clearly buoyed by this performance, the Blues returned to the pitch with confidence for the evening’s late kick-off. Despite good goals, some inspired movement from Adam ‘Suarez’ Brown and elegant footwork from Jack Withrington, the team again found themselves behind as the clock ran down. Something special was needed. Step forward Arthur ‘Van Persie’ Virgo, scoring three goals in almost as many minutes to set matters back on course.
With the match tied at 8-8, the Bluebirds surged forward to find a late winner, courtesy of a neat passing move down the wing that left the defence flat-footed, setting up an easy tap-in from the centre. Overcome with pride, elation, and no small measure of relief that yours truly hadn’t missed a sitter in the final moments, the team closed out a well-deserved win.
Whether as two teams or three, the Bluebirds will be looking to build fresh momentum in next Sunday’s fixture against Artis International, and to get the new 5-a-side season off to a winning start.