A week on from the disappointing defeat to Wogm FC and PPR found themselves on the road again, this time facing Fulham based outfit Birkbeck College. Once again spirits were unmistakably high. A crisp, sunny, autumn morn increased the joyous anticipation among PPR, to right the wrongs of the week before. Unfortunately however, things weren't to be...
A distinct weakness to PPR's game in the earlier games this season has been the speed at which they have gotten out of the blocks. A weakness that was certainly rectified against Birkbeck as Adam Byrne audaciously heel-flicked in a low cross from Matthew Green. After some nimble one-touch passing between Jonny, Jacko and Flynn, Ween skillfully unlocked BBC's defense before slotting across goal for the returning Byrnie to convert on 5 mins. 1-0. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKXUUE1zwLg)
The next 10 minutes saw PPR maintain control despite BBC's front two displaying a threat that would eventually come good for the home side. However it was from a corner that the equalizer should come. A stoic last ditch block from Carsten Tomkins denied the BBC striker a fine solo effort. It was from the resultant corner that Birkbeck's winger rose unchallenged in the PPR box to nod home an equalizer between Murdock's legs on 14 mins. 1-1. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tG27_0xakP8&feature=related)
Ten restless minutes would pass before the deadlock was broken again. And it was more calm passing from PPR that enabled Tomkins Jnr. to unleash a net-buster on 22 mins. Neatly steadying himself from Gomme's pass from the left, Nils then cannoned home a 30 yard howitzer, in off the underside of the crossbar. "Fluke", some of the BBC players presumed. Yet as Byrnie was quick to point out, "That was the Nils of old." A welcomed pat on the back for the centre half, particularly after Flynn's quick reminder to Nils that he "Can't score from 2 yards, but can from 30." 2-1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-bnW2nCGw8&feature=related)
It was this goal that seemed to inspire PPR. For the next ten minutes saw a barrage of long ranged efforts from Flynn and Byrnie, none finding their target. What then followed can only be described as a counter attack against the run of play, revealing worrying glimpses of PPR's defensive frailty - but also what can go wrong when PPR's passing game is found with its proverbial dick in its hand. A wayward pass from Tomkins Snr. found the BBC attacker who then poked the ball out wide, enabling a deft through pass to BBC's second striker, who calmly slotted home on 34 mins. 2-2. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9s_vba7I7LA&feature=related)
The remaining ten minutes saw some cultured passing from PPR's back four, particularly from James Havers, who's nimble first touches frequently outmaneuvered the BBC attack and calm head ensured PPR didn't deviate from their two-touch, short passing strategy.
The half-time whistle blew. PPR knew that the lack of defensive cohesion at the back was the team's undoing. If PPR were to assert themselves in this match, a leader at the back would need to emerge. No one came.
Instead, on 67th minute, a huge cross from deep found the head of the BBC striker who was able to neatly direct his header into the bottom corner. A distinct lack of communication once again to blame for a goal that threatened to dash the spirit of the Owl. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ_exJyzhoY&feature=related) 3-2.
Birkbeck's fourth turned out to be an own goal from Havers in the 70th minute. BBC's wingers had threatened with some effective crossing in the second half, and after skillfully chesting one down, their striker's tame effort was awkwardly sliced beyond the reach of Murdock. A cruel outcome for Havers, who's assurance earlier in the game was so vital for PPR. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mijNbva_df4&feature=related)
The remaining 20 minutes proved to be an ill-tempered period. Rash challenges on Gomme, Hunter and Allen saw tempers flare, and PPR's focus on salvaging a point from the tie was wavering.
On 75 mins the referee finally had enough of Birkbeck's captain and showed him a second yellow for yet another atrocious lunge. The dirty, slack-jawed, mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging Northern untermenschen's petulance throughout the game had not gone unnoticed, nor will it be forgotten in the return fixture in the Owl's nest.
With the home side down to 10 men, PPR finally began to show some character in the final quarter of the game. Goddard (Carsten, 62) threw himself forwards. Whilst Hunter (Byrne, 62) and Baker (Gomme, 71) added some freshness to the midfield. Ween saw a headed efford glance just wide of the post, while Nils had another powerful effort from range collected easily by the keeper.
False hope was restored in injury time when Jonny's finely struck volley from a long throw-in was directed goalwards by Nils (91 mins). Too little, too late. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKSu_Q6o97g&feature=related)
PPR's back line were perhaps too reactionary instead of precautionary. Organizational errors, miscommunication and a cruel own goal saw them deflated in the second half. And for the second week running PPR displayed a toothlessness in the final third that will need to be addressed if the PPRarmy is to march on.
Saturday saw The Owls stumble. Next Saturday will see them soar.
DoD: Havers was almost unanimously awarded DoD for his OG.
MoM: Nils, for his heavenly strike.