With a number of West Midlands Regional League (WMRL) pre-season friendlies currently being played at venues not associated with either club, it’s an opportunity to add a few new grounds to the groundhopping list.
That was the case as Oldbury United took on brand-new side Coven Athletic, who will be competing in the Staffordshire County Senior League next season, at City Of Wolverhampton College (Bilston).
Played on a 3G pitch, the surface brought out the best of intentions for both sides as they looked to play football. So often, at this level, you see the long ball tactic but full credit to both teams in the way that they approached the game.
The opening exchanges saw Oldbury take an early lead. In an open first period that they edged, a second just entering the final ten minutes gave them a cushion as the referee blew the whistle to half proceedings.
The damage was done though, as far as Coven were concerned, as they conceded three goals within five minutes in the second half. The first, in the 56th minute, was followed by another after good work down the left from the number 11, who himself made it number 5 with a great goal.
A further two were added in the 73rd and 76th minutes by which time the opponents began to look discouraged.
However, full credit to Coven Athletic, as they still pushed on and finished well, albeit unable to grab what would have been merely a consolation goal. As stated, they are a team starting from scratch and there were still plenty of positives to take from the game and definitely lots of areas that can be identified as ones to improve on.
The day belonged to Oldbury United though and after having watched them a couple of times recently, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them challenging for promotion in the WMRL third tier in 2018/2019.
If anything, I would say one of the biggest hurdles to overcome will be the pitch. Both games I’ve watched have been on 3G and they look good, comfortable with the ball and pass it around well.
Come the autumn onwards, when the grass surfaces of the majority of the WMRL sides become less than ideal, that will be an additional challenge. That’s football though, it’s always about dealing with whatever is thrown at you. I’m confident they’ll hit that head on though.
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