Birmingham 0-0 Saints
Aficionados of the African Cup of Nations will know from a couple of the group matches in Bata that it’s possible to play a game of football in the most difficult of conditions.
Snowy Birmingham presented challenges unknown in Equatorial Guinea, but on a pitch that was equally awkward and considerably more playable.
The home side dominated early stages with N’Daw heading narrowly wide and Saints not helping themselves by conceding territory too readily – if mistakes are inevitable, best make them further away from your own goal. Fox then launched into a tackle that TV showed to be fair, but of the sort that often brings a red card, not just the yellow shown by referee Dowd; however the caution seemed to show Fox’s colleagues that we were in a ‘real’ game and the team improved immeasurably to be clearly on top at the interval.
The second period began badly, but Davis saved well from King and showed good technique in holding on to a shot from N’Daw that proved nasty in the conditions.
Saints eventually re-established their passing game, with Sharp coming on for Connolly and Puncheon making way for Do Prado – Puncheon’s agreement with Mr. Cortese seems to mean that he is only contracted to play just over an hour or so at a time.
Sharp almost produced sufficient control to make an opportunity from Lambert’s assist but the snow and defenders eventually got the better of him. In fact the pitch was deteriorating by now and Saints also made the closing stages more difficult when Fox was cautioned again for an unnecessary and tame shove on Burke – it was deliberate, though, and that was the cause of his dismissal.
The game might have finished 10-a-side had Mr. Dowd not shown more leniency when Do Prado threatened to get away from the Blues defence. However, it has to be admitted that Myhill in the home goal hadn’t been forced into a meaningful save all match.
LSSC Man of the Match: Kelvin Davis. A bit harsh on the outfielders, all of whom put in a hard shift – but Davis likes his clean sheets, and he had to be on form to achieve one and win a point here.
08 Cork (Hammond – 81′ )
42 Puncheon (Guly – 73′ )
22 Connolly (Sharp – 51′ )