Super League Play-offs
Reported by Isaac Barrington
Image by Gorka
Birmingham moved one step closer to the grand finals at St Georges, by defeating Genesis 8-4 in the first leg of their Super League play-off.
The game started lively and Birmingham were quick to close the ball down and they had most of the early possession and chances. Viada fired two shots just wide of the sticks before the hosts took the lead. Jaunito picked out Dan Guy in space on the right wing, who blasted a shot across the goalkeeper and into the bottom right-hand corner. 1-0
Against the run of play, Genesis soon equalised. Kilman was tripped by Guy and Ribeiro beat Poulson at his near post with a powerful strike. 1-1
Poulson did well to deny Ribeiro his second, and Birmingham were quick to counter. Viada was brought down by Indanhe and he was shown his first of two yellow cards by the official. Alex Igarza took the free kick, and he struck the ball through the wall and past the un-sighted keeper. 2-1
Perez linked up nicely with Lopez, but the visiting keeper denied him one-on-one and Lewis Scott’s shot on the spur of the moment was well saved.
Exactly three minutes after Indanhe was shown his first yellow card, he was given his second. Pol Viada tried to take the kick in quickly, but the Genesis number 8 stood directly in front of him, blocking the kick and was consequently given his second yellow card and sent for an early bath!
Genesis used the 2, 1 formation to try and play out the two minutes with 4 men, but Birmingham took advantage and grabbed their third. Igarza set up Jaunito who tapped the ball home and made the score 3-1 to the hosts!
With four minutes of the first half left, England international Max Kilman reduced the deficit. He neatly slotted the ball past Poulson from close range to ensure that the contest was still close going into half time. HT 3-2
Genesis were primarily built around Kilman, and he dictated all of their play from the back. He played a neat ball out wide to Crespo who slipped the ball underneath Cristin and into the net. 3-3
Genesis would just not lie down but just as Ribeiro thought he had given his team the lead, the woodwork came to Birmingham’s rescue and left the Genesis bench flapping in distress.
Viada’s shot forced a good save out of White, but the young English keeper could only parry it out for a corner. The Birmingham captain took the corner and Jaunito converted it, curling the ball away from White and into the bottom right hand corner from extremely close range. 4-3
Birmingham continued to apply pressure, but the game was still in the balance. White denied Jaunito from out wide and Guy’s effort deflected out for a corner kick.
Birmingham took command of the game with two quick fire goals. Pau Lopez strode forward down the left hand side to toe-poke the ball home and Orlando Perez also got his name on the scoresheet seconds later, after a goalmouth scramble. 6-3
With three minutes remaining, Kilman displayed some wonderful footwork and left both Igarza and Cristin on the deck before tapping home. 6-4
Birmingham rounded off a wonderful victory with two late goals, the first from Igarza and the second from Lewis Scott. Scott, who was tremendous throughout, unselfishly fed Igarza for as easy a tap in as possible, and Dan Guy somehow managed to pick out Igarza with a reverse pass before he pulled the ball back for Scott to fire home. 8-4
Rafa Merino will be delighted with the result, but everybody knows that a lot can change in 40 minutes of futsal, and an under par performance next week could lead to a Genesis comeback against the odds. FT 8-4
Birmingham: Poulson (Gk), Cristin (GK), Guy, Perez, Rion, Scott, Mulekezi, Jaunito, Viada, Sullivan.
Genesis: White (GK), Kilman, Shawyer, Rogers, Walpole, Tamplin, Ribeiro, Crespo, Fernando, Sequeira, Indanhe.