BIRKBECK ORIENT Football Club have promotion in their sights as they continue their preparations for the 2012-13 season.
After a disappointing end to the 2011-12 season the squad returned to training in July with determination, although it was with some sadness that we said goodbye to Ed Lennard.
Four other players left, for non-footballing reasons, so we took the opportunity to rebuild and improve. Ryan Gray and Kiel Mellor joined from fellow division 4 team Maynell FC, an former BOFC man Mark Pether re-signed. Mackenzie Page joined soon after and 16-year-old winger Daniel Mpasi impressed on his senior debut. Sammy Dutton, Charlie Hopkinson, Frankie Fitzpatrick and Jonny Millard have also done well during pre-season fixtures and will get more game time as the season approaches.
Training has been focused and sharp, and our preparations were boosted as professional footballer Jack Pridmore put the team through its paces with an excellent training session. Results and performances so far have been good. In our first friendly we beat 1st division side Rookwood 2-1. BOFC scorers were Chris Agathangelou and Sammy Dutton.
Birky lost out narrowly to Euston Honved 4-3 in their next fixture. Mark Pether scored and a brace of goals came from Ryan Gray. In their most recent game Birkbeck improved to beat Eastway Olympia 2-0, Ryan Gray and Joe Latimer getting the goals.
Though results have been encouraging, it has been the performances that have been most pleasing. The attacking instinct that was lacking last season is evident, and we have retained our defensive strength, looked confident on the ball throughout the team and put together some excellent periods of play.
The team has shown real improvement over the first weeks of pre-season and that will only continue as the new signings bed in. We are in a much better position now than we were at the same point last season and there is a real sense of belief that this will be our year.
Our next two games will be significant tests against opposition from outside our league as we build up to the start, on Sunday 23 September 2012, of our league programme. On Sun 19 August we are due to host Hilford FC and on 26 August Leiston Orient make the long journey from Suffolk. Both games will be at Ashton’s Playing Fields, Woodford.
Paul Pether reports:
On the playing field of Redbridge College, a lesson learnt
26 August 2012: Birkbeck Orient 0, Old Parkonians 4
Old Parks fielded a strong XI, with plenty of pace and strength in midfield. They were the superior team throughout the first half, knocking the ball around fluidly while the Os failed to work together as a defensive unit.
Parks took the lead in the first 15 minutes, bundling the ball home from a dangerous in-swinging free kick. It didn’t take them long to double their lead, a midfielder seizing on a half-cleared cross to place the ball in the top corner from 8m.
The Os were then given a chance to halve the deficit from the penalty spot, after Ryan was clattered by the Parks left back. But there was a double-whammy of bad luck for Birky, as Ryan was forced to leave the field injured and Harry kicked over the bar.
Parks took a 3-0 lead shortly before half time – once again, the Os failed to track their men at a corner and former Os man Rob was given space to squeeze a volley into the bottom corner from 12m.
Birkbeck Orient, however, stuck resolutely to their passing game in the second half, despite being pressed hard by Parks. The Os had more territory and Harry made space for a couple of good long-range efforts. But Parks always looked threatening on the counter attack, and they increased their lead on the break, a forward slotting home after a dangerous run from their pacy right winger.
Mac and Joe came off the bench to add some composure in defence, and the Os continued to try to put together some passing moves. However, passes went astray and the Parks keeper remained largely untested. Meanwhile, Os keeper Rich had to push a goalbound effort on to the crossbar to prevent Parks adding a fifth.
A salient lesson for Birky in the importance of positional and defensive discipline. Still, it was encouraging to see the Os keep faith in their short passing game all the way to the final whistle.
* Squad: Rich, Darren, Evan, Mark, Dave, Pete, Chris, Harry, Sam, Daniel, Ryan, Joe, Mac.
High summer and our heroes are running hot
19 August 2012: Birkbeck Orient 5, Loughton Town 1
THE Birky Os gave another impressive pre-season performance, outclassing Loughton Town of the Essex Sunday Football Combination.
On a sweltering day, the emphasis was always going to be on keeping possession. Birky looked hungry from the first whistle, routinely winning possession in midfield and using the ball intelligently. After a few near misses, the Os eventually made their dominance count, taking the lead from the penalty spot. The impressive Daniel drew a clumsy foul from a Loughton defender, and Elliot confidently despatched the spot kick.
Birky doubled their lead shortly after – Harry strove to reach a through ball, win a 50-50 with the Loughton keeper and leave Daniel with the simple task of poking the ball into an empty net.
Having put a big effort into the first half an hour, Birky made a couple of substitutions and lost their way a little. Loughton finished the first half stronger, having a penalty shout waved away and threatening from a couple of corners. However, the score remained 2-0 as the half-time whistle was blown.
Loughton showed better composure at the start of the second half, and began to put the Birky back four under pressure. However, Evan and Mac were solid as ever at the back and denied Town any clear chances. It was Birky who grabbed the next goal of the game – and an excellent team goal it was, too – as Dave clipped a lovely pass to the on-rushing Daniel, who crossed to the back stick for Ryan to squeeze the ball just over the goal line. That’s four goals in three pre-season games for the new Birky striker.
Loughton reduced the deficit minutes later with an excellent direct free kick from the edge of the box, which gave Rich no chance. However, Birky continued to deny Loughton any clear-cut chances in open play and eventually made the game safe with another two goals. Firstly, Elliot was given time and space to crack a shot past the Town keeper from 18m. The fifth was a carbon copy of the fourth, but came from an unlikely source: Darren smacked the ball home and boosted his chances of a run in the team in his natural position (up front).
The Os are building momentum for the league campaign.
* Squad: Rich, Martin, Darren, Mac, Kiel, Evan, Joe, Harry, Dave, Pete, Elliot, Daniel, Ryan, Frankie.
Birkbeck Orient are Olympia champions!
12 August 2012: Birkbeck Orient 2, Eastway Olympia 0
IT WAS a makeshift Birky side: several injures and an unfamiliar line up: Kiel, Luke and youth team player Daniel made their debuts and Paul rolled back the years to partner Ryan up front.
Eastway started strongly in the opening 10 minutes, but Birky felt their way into the game and began to string passes together confidently, particularly down the left flank. After Eastway spurned a good chance, Birky took the lead – a flowing move saw Pete tee up Ryan to swivel and beat the keeper from 5m out. The Os had the better of possession for the remainder of the half, as Elliot, Dave and Pete became increasingly influential in midfield.
Eastway redoubled their efforts as the second half kicked off, but it was Birky who found the net in the early stages – Joe ran on to a loose ball 20m out and steered a beautiful low shot into the far corner with his right foot. Eastway maintained their direct style, but Kiel and Luke were unbeatable at the heart of Birky’s defence and the Os continued to create the better chances.
Daniel was unfortunate to volley just over the bar after a corner was flicked on by Kiel, and Martin glanced a header just wide. Later on, an Eastway error allowed Ryan through on goal, but his shot whistled just over.
With Eastway pushing forward in the final 10 minutes, it took a wonder save from Rich and a deflection off the woodwork to preserve Birky’s clean sheet.
Team: Rich, Martin, Kiel, Luke, Joe, Daniel, Dave, Pete, Elliot, Paul, Ryan
Euston, we have a problem
5 August 2012: Birkbeck Orient 3, Euston Honved 4
IN THEIR second pre-season friendly of 2012, the Birky Os slipped to a narrow defeat against side managed by ex-Birky midfielder Jonny Davies.
There was a healthy amount of Sunday League farce before kick-off (aint tradition wonderful?), thanks to pitch-booking problems and a fierce hailstorm, before the game was eventually assigned a pitch, if that’s you can call a field with no markings. Credit to both teams for dealing with the imperfect conditions.
It was an open game throughout, both teams keeping the ball on the deck and committing plenty of players forward. Both keepers were called on often. In the first half, Honved showed greater intelligence in their passing and movement, helping themselves to a three-goal lead at the interval, largely thanks to their pacy and clinical striking duo.
Birky got tactically organised in the second half, and slowly dragged themselves back into the game. First, a flowing move culminated in striker Ryan turning the ball past the keeper from 10m. Some time later the Os’ new signing found the net again, cheekily lofting the ball over the keeper after being put through.
However, Euston re-established a two-goal lead soon after, when Os defender Mac inadvertently deflected a speculative long-ranger from Honved into his own net. It was very unlucky for the centre back, who had a storming game otherwise.
Midfielder Chris hit the post with a great shot on the turn, and a Honved player cracked a shot on to the crossbar, as chances continued to come for both sides.
With a few minutes left to play, Birky pulled back another goal – forward Mark making space and hitting an accurate left-footed shot past the keeper – but Honved preserved their lead through to the final whistle. A good workout for both sides.
The squad comprised Richard, Martin, Mac, Evan, Joe, Pete, Dave, Harry, Sam, Frankie, Mark, Ryan
Last season (2011-12) league table:
1. FC Duchess
2. Walthamstow Village
3. Highams Park Rovers
4. Lord Rockwood Rovers
5. Birkbeck Orient
6. Lord Morpeth
8. Eastway Olympia
9. Haggerston Nomads
10. Bow Young Price
11. Leyton Manor
12. East London
* Birkbeck Orient will play their pre-season games at Ashton’s Playing Fields, Woodford IG8 8AA, kick-off 10.30am: 26 Aug: Leiston Orient; 3 Sep: Leyton Orientear (TBC). On 27 Aug BOFC will play Old Parkonians FC in a five-a-side tournament at Old Parkonians, Barkingside.