FIVE points from three games just weren’t enough to secure Shirley Athletic the runners up spot in the Birmingham AFA Premier Division, but they still managed to finish a creditable third after a packed week of football.
First up were St Francis away, Shirley setting off with a team of crocks and minus a keeper and returned with a band of warriors.
St Francis started the better, going two up in the first 20 minutes.
It only took five minutes to get off the mark when stand-in keeper Joe Cole was unable to hold a low hard cross, the rebound being toed home.
The second goal came out of the blue, a 25 yard right to left shot hitting the top left hand corner to double the Saints lead.
Shirley though were given a life line after Mike Toms was dragged down by the goal keeper from behind in a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
The keeper somehow only saw yellow but captain Ben Ince stepped up and cooly buried the penalty.
Shirley came out for the second half with more of a spring in their step and were rewarded on 57 minutes, when a Steve Ruck corner was headed home by Scott Kite.
It was Kite again 10 minutes later, that helped Shirley turn this tie on its head when his powerful shot made it 3-2.
However just when Shirley was looking to come away with all three points, Saints grabbed a point for themselves.
A much-changed Shirley then hosted second placed side Village, winning 2-0, the goals coming from Kite and Steve Ruck.
Shirley’s bid to gain runners-up spot ended against the rock that is Silhill FC.
Both teams fielded changes, but it was Silhill who were more entertaining in the first half and could have and should have taken the lead through Cameron Knight.
A couple of clear cut chances were not converted, or making Shirley keeper Chris Knott being called into action.
Shirley had one great chance, but David Stratford in the Sils’ goal made a great save.
The second half was a little better for Shirley, with former Sils’ 4th player Joe Cole always dangerous with his pace.
A few chances were created but Stratford was also not called into action. With 15 to go, it livened up. Firstly Shirley’s Kieran Fitzgerald somehow missed the target from three yards, and then Shirley’s Chris Knott made two great saves.
Finishing on 25 points, the Sils ended up fourth from bottom and four points clear of relegation.
On the downside, by some margin they scored the fewest goals of any team in the Premier Division, having lost their key strikers Steve Smith and Chris Kavanagh early on, so it was their heroic defence which kept them up.