After several weekends with disrupted outdoor events due to the wettest May on record in the UK, national-level competitions returned indoors for the first time in just over fourteen months. The FA’s futsal competition, the National Futsal Series (NFS) began their Women’s Super Series and their long awaited men’s “Summer Showdown” competitions. Over the next four weeks the men’s NFS1 teams will compete for a single Champions League spot, while the women’s clubs will compete for their national title. Meanwhile, NFS2 teams will also play a competition to determine another champion. It should provide plenty of entertainment over the coming weeks – some of the competitions are available live on the NFS official YouTube channel – futsal fans should subscribe here!
West London 10-8 Los Benjamines
First though, we need to tie up loose ends! The London Futsal League has been playing outdoors at Westway for the past six weeks, but inclement weather disrupted the final stages. This weekend the organisers made the sensible decision to play the final round indoors to finish the competition and crown a winner.
Los Benjamines have been so impressive and were undefeated thus far in the competition, whilst West London had started with no wins in their first three matches and were fortunate that the tournament format allowed them a path to the final. WLF Started the match fast, taking an early two-goal lead, Osama and Fabio N getting on the scoresheet quickly. Los Benjamines fought back, levelling with two goals of their own and then with momentum on their side were able to press on and extend their lead to 3-2 at the interval.
WLF manager Douglas St. Louis’s changes at half time proved effective as the match swung back in their favour. Five second half goals from Osama, giving him six in total in the match and twelve in the competition overall , and even though tournament start player Erick was able to add a few himself in what became a ding dong affair, goals flying in from all angles, Los Benjamines were unable to overcome the early momentum shift and the tie finished 10-8 to WLF. This edition of the London Futsal League goes to them after an improbable turnaround, not only in the game but the competition as a whole! Congratulations to them, and well played to everyone involved.
Helvecia Ladies 6-0 Reading Royals Women
Helvecia, undoubtedly the most famous and successful futsal club in England have not only the strongest men’s team in the country, but also the most successful women’s futsal team – runaway and undefeated leaders in the COVID-stricken 2019-20 season, but also multiple national champions, both as Helvecia and in their previous guise as South London Ladies. This tie was therefore always going to be a baptism of fire for the relatively inexperienced Reading Royals Women’s side, who will no doubt find subsequent fixtures easier than this one. Nicole Pepper’s strike after a corner opened the scoring for Helvecia and was soon followed onto the scoresheet by Louise Hogan’s toe-strike into the bottom corner. Some excellent saves By Cristina Sarmiento kept it close for the first quarter, and Reading eventually settled into the match, making fewer errors and beginning to look like they might have some luck on the counter.
Helvecia, thanks to quality in particular from BT Sport’s Ultimate Goal star Selin Buyukgiray, continued to dominate the ball. Selin and her teammates passed it around with great precision, and eventually that dominance led to a goal just before half time – an excellent ball from Ana Alvarez-De La Iglesia was flicked delightfully in by the ever impressive Emma Tune – probably the best known female English player in the league. Helvecia began the second half well, and were relentless in putting Reading under pressure with and without the ball. Hogan set up Lucindha Lawson to score the fourth, and Helvecia were regularly able to find their way in behind Reading’s defence. Some excellent goalkeeping, and on several occasions the frame of the goal, prevented the score getting out of hand. Eventually Nerea Castro-Chaudarcas scored a fifth after being found at the back post by Arabel Vilas Serin. The best goal of the match was an excellent counter-attack, Tune breaking the length of the court with amazing speed after intercepting a Reading corner, and then showing composure to find Pepper who finished high into the goal. Tune, who on another day could have scored a hat-trick managed to hit the post again before time ran out. Viewers can re-watch the full match here
Liam Francis, Helvecia Head Coach told us after the match – “I thought we were excellent on Saturday, we controlled the ball from start to finish and didn’t allow our opposition too many opportunities to hurt us. It was a commanding performance and one that I am proud of for our first game after well over a year. I would also like to state just what a well-run team Reading Royals were, they showed great team spirit to keep driving on for the whole match, and I know they’ll cause an upset further down the line.”
Fernando Silva, Reading’s manager added – “It was our debut and we couldn’t be happier than to have the chance of playing against one of the best women’s futsal teams in the country. I’m super proud of our girls, we are going to keep working hard to get better every week. The team spirit is really high and after today’s game we are definitely a better team. It was amazing to be back indoors again after so long outside! Well done to London Helvecia for their deserved win.”
This Saturday Reading Royals will face Loughborough Students and Helvecia’s next opponent will be The University of Liverpool. Both matches will be live streamed on the NFS YouTube channel.
ProFutsal Dev 6-4 Reading Royals
Reading Royals were Premiership South champions in the National Futsal League last year – being awarded the overall title on ‘points per game’. Despite losing several key players to local rivals Wessex Futsal Club, they still have a very strong team, as proved by their recent showing in the Futsal Premier League. They began their ‘Summer Showdown’ campaign against ProFutsal Development, another excellent young team who have impressed in the Futsal Premier League this spring. They were boosted with the addition of senior players Charlie Hyman and Felipe Lima, both of whom were impressive in this match, which was an excellent display of passion, emotion and high intensity futsal right until the final seconds.
ProFutsal had the majority of the ball and were pressed with great intensity by Reading who in a similar fashion to recent displays in the FPL were happy to play a counterattacking game dominated by fast transitions and excellent distribution by their outstanding goalkeeper Dan Welch. Reading took the lead in the match after a well worked free kick was saved into the path of Josh Gillespie at the back post. ProFutsal managed to wrestle the game back with two well worked goals in the first half and then Ollie Kay scored at the back post after some excellent pivot play by Felipe Lima halfway through the second half. The game opened up from here on – a controversial goal that ProFutsal furiously complained was handball was scored by Reading. Hyman restored a two goal cushion, before Reading pulled another back with an expertly taken ‘double penalty’ by captain Phillip Lant. The Royals then drew level with yet another counter attack finished by Gillespie for his second. Then with 45 seconds left, an unfortunate ricochet fell nicely for Josh Nathan who finished past a helpless Welch. Chaos then ensued as Reading went for it, Welch joined the attack, Lant lost it in the middle, ProFutsal broke on a 3 v 1, with no goalkeeper and the defender did all he could to stop a certain goal and took the man out. Reading’s player was sent off, passions on the benches becoming frayed at this point. Lima scored the 10m penalty to put the game to bed and ProFutsal began with a win in a match that could easily have been won by either team.
Both teams will face Escolla Futsal Club in their next match, ProFutsal next weekend in Wycombe, then Reading the following weekend in Salisbury.
Sporting Southend 5-3 Bedford
Last season’s runners-up to Reading Royals in the Premiership South were Sporting Club Southend – an excellent team who improved as that season progressed, with some top players in their ranks. Nelson Santos has incredible talent with the ball at his feet and one-v-one is as good as anyone in the country playing futsal at the moment. Bedford have a less experienced team, and more home-grown players – but they felt they could cause Southend problems.
A flurry of early goals saw Santos open for Southend, a reply by Bedford via Samuel Smith, and the restoration of Sporting’s lead via another starting player in Bruno Vitorino. Jorge Correira extended their lead halfway through the first half. The second half was intense with both teams defending well – although things were threatening to boil over at one point. Pernell Taylor-Jacob pulled one back for Bedford, before Miguel Antonio scored for Southend. Bedford went fly-goalkeeper in an effort to save the game, and although Taylor-Jacob gave them hope, it was dashed by Vitorino who finished the game with a ‘double penalty’ in the final minutes.
Southend and Bedford face Wessex in their next matches.
We will continue to round-up as much action as we can – if you’d like your club to feature please get in touch with us at [email protected]