A very windy and muddy afternoon in Birmingham saw the Lions fail to win away despite an impressive start to the match.
Andrew P started in goal with a back line of Mario P, Simon R, Adam W and Gareth D, James H on the left, Jeff J, Craig J and Andrew T in the centre, Sean M on the right and Matt H the lone striker.
The Lions started the game with passion and organisation. After some half chances, Jeff J played a lovely through ball to Sean M who curled the ball around the keeper onto the opposite post; the ball bounced back out kindly for Matt H who neatly slotted away.
Any attempts from Birmingham to get forward were quickly snuffed out by an organised Lions team; Simon and Adam consistently intercepted Blaze forward passes and Mario and Gareth stuck tightly to their men, whilst James Hill and Sean Mansfield worked hard to get up and down the wings.
The Lions continued to press and this time James H split the defence with a through ball to Matt H who’s initial strike was well saved only for the rebound to fall to Matt’s feet where he neatly tucked the ball away for the second time in thirty minutes.
Blaze knew they needed to up their game and grew back into contention by utilising their quick wingers. A run down their right lead to a cross, which Mario tried to intercept but the ball fell kindly for a Birmingham striker who easily slotted home their first goal. Again, Birmingham utilised their left flank and their speedy winger tricked his way into a one on one position with Andrew P, who could only parry the shot into the far corner of the goal to make it 2-2 just before half time.
With plenty of confidence the Lions looked spritely starting the second half, runs from Sean M and James H kept the pressure on the blaze defence and the midfield 3 of Andrew T, Craig J and Jeff J were combining well and picking up the loose balls. But against the run of play, Birmingham attacked down their right and crossed the ball into the area forcing Simon Reid to intercept, seeing the ball nestle in the bottom corner to make it 3-2.
This goal seemed to dishearten the Lions and their pressure in the Birmingham half was coming to nothing, with plenty of possession and some nice flowing football not coming off in the final third despite plenty of chances, including a Craig J back heel right in front of goal which was well saved.
Craig I changed the formation to try and get more orange shirts forward, bringing on Asher and himself for Gareth and Mario, using a 3-5-2 formation.
After more Lions pressing, the gaps at the back inevitably opened up and Birmingham managed to break the Lions offside trap and cause problems in the final third. The Lions struggled to clear a cross which fell kindly for a Blaze striker to smash home at the back post, a free kick just outside the box was powered at goal and parried by Andrew P but only fell to a Blaze player who volleyed home, and a long ball over the lions back line late on left a blaze striker with only the keeper to beat, whom he calmly lobbed to put the game to bed at 6-2.
A difficult day for the Lions, disheartened to come away from a game they were leading but this doesn’t deter them heading into their final few games of the season. Their next match is on the 7th of April away against Yorkshire Terriers in the GFSN.