Another weekend, another set of fixtures in the FA’s National Futsal Series. This time, some of the top men’s sides in the country began to play each other in the ‘Tier 1 Summer Showdown’. The ‘Tier 2’ competition continued, although it has been very difficult to cover these matches since there was no video or really even any live reporting. But first, the Women’s Super Series played their second round of fixtures – this week saw some better match-ups and as a result some more competitive games.
Helvecia Ladies 5-3 University of Liverpool
Both teams dominated with relatively easy wins last week and this was always going to be a closer encounter, between two of the best women’s sides in the country. Liverpool were excellent in the opening stages, Newsham in particular a real handful on the break and she should have scored or set up a couple of goals but the closest she came was in hitting the post. Helvecia also wasted a few good opportunities, Emma Tune setting up her teammates on a number of occasions only for them to miss hit what seemed like easy opportunities.
Helvecia’s teenage goalkeeper Alicia Grimmond, largely a spectator last week was excellent here in the first half, making a number of good saves and showing fantastic distribution with her hands. After almost an entire half of high quality play from both teams it was unfortunate that an error lead to the first goal. Selin Buyukgiray’s tame shot was only parried by Liverpool’s keeper, and Tune was on hand to rifle the loose ball into the roof of the net. Tune followed it a couple of minutes later after a good breakaway by Helvecia, beating the keeper at the near post as she shaped to fire it towards the far post. Ana Alvarez-De La Iglesia scored a third before half-time after a fairly simple corner-routine was deflected in off the defender’s attempted block. The score line at half-time was harsh on Liverpool who had really played well and could easily have been on level terms with slightly better finishing.
The second half picked up exactly where we left off, Helvecia with a touch more of the ball, but Liverpool always looking dangerous on the break. Erin Slade & Emma Lysons were both fantastic in the opening exchanges, adding to Newsham’s threat. Slowly, Helvecia became more dominant in the half and after more than nine minutes of goalless but breathless play in the second half, Alvarez-De La Iglesia capitalised on a poor throw out in the middle, but still had a lot to do in beating the keeper with an excellent left-footed strike into the far post.
Helvecia were now in control of the match, a slightly deflated looking Liverpool struggling now to get out of the half. Emma Lyson’s breakway offered some hope, and a way back into the game after she put it through Grimmond’s legs to make it 4-1. As the teams tired, Buyukgiray was allowed to advance up the centre of the court and she blasted it beyond XXX in the Liverpool goal to restore a comfortable four goal lead. Liverpool were determined to at least make the scoreline respectable – especially given they’d given the country’s leading women’s side such a good game – Grimmond was forced into some more excellent saves. Newsham managed to pull one back with a free-kick that was rifled into the bottom corner, and almost immediately she followed it with another strike after being put through brilliantly by Lysons. Liam Francis called a timeout, clearly concerned about Liverpool ascendancy. Helevcia were better thereafter, although the game did still contain chances for both sides to score, it finished 5-3 to the Champions. A fantastic game and an even better advert for women’s futsal in England.
Helvecia’s Head Coach Liam Francis said after the game: “It was a great performance from the team, we knew it was going to be tough, and we had to weather a storm in parts. However, the players stuck to the game plan, and our relentless press came to fruition on multiple occasions.
But also, what a great advert for women’s futsal that was, two of the best sides going head to head and producing some brilliant performances.”
Helvecia will next face Loughborough Students, while University of Liverpool will face Reading Royals.
Elsewhere, Loughborough Students beat Reading Royals Women 4-1, Bedford managed to beat a confident Birmingham WLV by 4-3 in an exciting encounter and Bolton continued their impressive start to life as a women’s club with another victory, this time against local rivals Liverbird Futsal. The remaining fixture, Genesis v Cheshire, was cancelled after a positive COVID test in the Genesis squad and the win was awarded to Cheshire. All of the action can be viewed here
NFS Tier 1 Summer Showdown – St Georges Park
The FA National Futsal Series ‘Summer Showdown’ is being held over the course of four weekends this summer, and it’s not only great for those teams to get some competitive action for the first time in fourteen months, but also fantastic to see the work being put in to promote the game by streaming the event live on YouTube, and airing the highlights next weekend on Freesports. The first set of fixtures made some decent viewing, although ideally everyone would have had more time to prepare by training indoors, so it may take a week or two for everyone to get fully up to speed.
The first match, between Bolton and Derby, was a closely fought contest between two fairly even teams. During the second half, perhaps not surprisingly given the intensity of the first half combined with the long time without playing, both teams looked as though they lacked the energy to make a decisive breakthrough. As Derby were a goal down it was they who were forced to do the running. A Brilliant piece of awareness combined with skillful execution saw player-manager Stuart Cook score from 35 meters after spotting the Derby keeper off his line, and it was enough to see Bolton over the line as 3-1 winners.
The second match, between ProFutsal and Worcester, I think it’s fair to say was not ‘a closely fought contest’. In fact, the only fair way to describe the match was that Worcester received an absolute walloping by ProFutsal. Worcester could barely hold the ball against ProFutsal’s high and energetic press, Jonny Sim in the ProFutsal goal had less than a handful of saves to make all match. At the other end, and despite Dylan Malpas’ best efforts goals flew in from all angles as the match finished 13-0 to the favourites for Group A. Can Worcester recover and avoid thrashings by Bolton and Derby? Can ProFutsal challenge Helvecia for the title and the European place to go with it?
Helvecia played Birmingham WLV in the third match of the day – boasting a number of new signings including Liam Palfreeman, fresh off the back of winning a Serie B title in Italy with CUS Ancona. Helvecia took an early lead, before being surprisingly pegged back by Birmingham. Hopes of an unlikely upset were quickly dashed as Helvecia piled on the pressure, sharing the goals around the team and easily beating Birmingham 8-1 in the end.
The final match of the day saw one of England’s most historic clubs take on the best University team in the country. Manchester started brightly, going into an early lead before two good goals from Loughborough put them ahead. Two penalties, neither without controversy, were put away early in the second half by Raducio King. Manchester’s new signing from ProFutsal Jeff Adubofour extended the lead, before Ruben Santos managed to bring it back within a goal. Loughborough’s fly keeper made an entertaining final couple of minutes, but Manchester held on to make a great start to their campaign.
All of the action from the men’s competition can be seen here