Paul Pether reports
Hackney Marshes, 16 September 2012: Birkbeck Orient 5, Inter Nation 3
The two sides shared nine goals in a recent pre-season friendly, and it was clear from the first whistle that another open game was in store as both teams had their wingers pushed right up on the opposition’s full backs.
The Os had the better of the opening exchanges, forcing the Inter back four into several mistakes, but Inter then took the lead with a wonder goal – Rich could only look on helplessly as a midfielder unleashed an unstoppable shot in off the far post from 25m. Birky pushed forward and nearly equalised with a wonder strike of their own – unfortunately, Mark’s 30m belter found only the outside of the post.
However, it didn’t take Birky long to get back on level terms. The referee spotted a shirt tug on Charlie in the box and awarded the Os a soft-looking penalty. Sam confidently tucked away the spot kick to make it 1-1.
The pattern of play was now firmly established: the Os pressing high up the pitch, Inter occasionally getting the ball forward to their dangerous front line. Inter’s right winger was keeping Joe occupied and their midfielders were strong in the air.
It was Birky who struck next – Dan escaped down the left flank and produced a perfect pull-back to Chris, who slotted the ball into the far corner. The lead didn’t last long, though, as an error from Sam allowed an Inter striker to bear down on goal and make it 2-2.
It was an aberration. Birky were starting to look the stronger team as Dan and Frankie became increasingly influential on the wings. And Dan was the man to restore the Os’ lead, latching on to a loose ball in the area and scoring from 8m.
Inter continued to look threatening on the break, but the Os preserved their lead until the interval. As the second period kicked off, both teams knew that the next goal would be crucial. Chris had a close-range finish chalked off for offside as Birky looked to stretch their lead. Makeshift striker Harry put himself about and had a couple of good sights of goal, but couldn’t hit the target. It was a great relief when Charlie nodded in an inswinging free kick from Chris to make the score 4-2.
The goal deflated Inter and Birky took advantage, notching a fifth with 20 minutes to go. Dan capped off a great performance with his second goal, running on to Frankie’s through ball and rounding the keeper easily before scoring.
Inter were now forced to throw men forward, and they dominated the closing stages. Kiel and substitute Mac then came to the fore, producing a number of meaty headers and clearances. Keeper Rich took a painful hit from an Inter striker, but dusted himself down and made a number of confident claims, as well as one excellent save to keep a header out.
Inter managed a third goal, but it came with a large slice of luck as a midfielder mis-hit a cross, which sailed over Rich and into the net.
After surviving one more goalmouth scramble, Birky were able to celebrate their first three points of the season.
* Man of the match: Dan Mpasi
* Next scheduled fixture: cup match against Ernie’s Young Guns, 30 Sep 2012 at University of Westminster grounds (Chiswick W4 3UH), 10.30am kick-off.
* Squad: Rich Critchlow, Mark Pether, Kiel Mellor, Martin Durant, Joe Latimer, Daniel Mpasi, Chris Agathangelou, Charlie Hopkinson, Frankie Fitzpatrick, Sam Steele, Harry Raymond, Mac Page, Dave Corck-Adelman, Sam Dutton.
* Photographs by the editor of this website.