York have a mountain to climb if they are to reach the nationals of the BUCS Futsal championships after a frustrating Sunday in Sheffield.
A team missing a number of key players lost to Sheffield Hallam and Leeds Met at the English Institute of Sport, leaving them still searching for their maiden victory at the half-way point of the eight-game qualification series.
Although not mathematically impossible, qualification for the finals, which will be held in Sheffield in March, will now be a tall order. However, York can draw optimism from the fact that two of their remaining, must-win fixtures are against Edge Hill University, perceived as the weakest team in the northern section, as well as tougher matches against Leeds Met and Teesside.
As if travelling with just six players wasn’t enough, the scale of York’s task was confirmed when Hallam took the lead after just 30 seconds of the day’s opening fixture – Jonny Steel finding the net despite a strong hand from goalkeeper David Ambrozejczyk.
But York were the favourites and replied within two minutes when captain Ash Daly produced a neat finish at the near post. Daly’s persistence in regaining possession then set up a gilt-edged opportunity for Dan Gorringe, but he fired across the face of goal.
Hallam weren’t being given a moment’s peace as York hassled and pressed them, but it was a long ball which eventually undid them. Dom Hallas read the trajectory and produced a flicked header to put York 2-1 up.
The Sheffield side had the luxury of a large squad and their regular rotations of personnel to save energy started to take effect as they took command of the game early in the second-half. Glen Drawbridge flashed a shot into the top corner, before Sam Burns and Richard Mitchell established a 4-2 lead with accomplished finishes.
York Firsts Squad:
GK David Ambrozejczyk, 8. Ash Daly (c), 2. Dan Turley, 9. Tom Day, 4. Dan Gorringe, 6. Dom Hallas (12. Alex Tringham played the second-half against Leeds Met)
York Firsts Results
University of York Firsts 4
(Daly 3’ Hallas 12’ Turley 27’ Day 36’)
Sheffield Hallam 6
(Steel 1’ Drawbridge 19’ Burns 24’ Mitchell 25’ Sturgess 29’ Steel 30’)
University of York Firsts 1
Leeds Metropolitan Carnegie 4
(Kurtovic 1’ 12’ 23’ 30’ 39’)
Dan Turley’s accurate low drive reduced the arrears, but Hallam stung their opponents with a couple of lightning-fast assaults to settle the contest. Sturgess was left with a tap-in before Steel grabbed his second to make it 6-3.
Ambrozejczyk showed tremendous reflexes to keep out Steel’s penalty as the clock ticked down, but the comeback wasn’t forthcoming. Another header, this time from Tom Day, was little more than consolation in making the final score 6-4.
The encounter with Leeds Met, who again had the advantage in terms of players at their disposal, was always likely to be passionately and physically contested and in the end it was a hat-trick of clinical finishes from Demir Kurtovic which proved the difference.
It took the Leeds Futsal Club player all of seven seconds to get off the mark, firing low beyond Ambrozejczyk after outpacing the York defence. However, Daly showed great composure at the other end to equalise before the first minute had been completed.
Despite an effort from Gorringe which struck the crossbar, and the belated introduction of Alex Tringham, this was as good as it got for York.
Kurtovic converted a well-worked set-piece for 2-1 and blasted in from the edge of the penalty area to complete his hat-trick, before a late tap-in made it four and ended any chance of a revival.
The second team also suffered disappointment, losing heavily to Leeds University and Northumbria.
They started sluggishly against Leeds, finding themselves three goals down at the turnaround courtesy of goals from Doyle, Hirst and Smedley. Luck was clearly not on their side as both Adam Tzimas and Jonathan Purdie rattled the woodwork.
They fared slightly better in the second-half and Chumang Saloman Songo scored on the rebound after Tzimas had seen his shot saved. However, they couldn’t sustain any attacking momentum and goals from Doyle, plus an unfortunate own goal by Songo, put the game beyond their reach at 5-1.
Doyle saved his best for the hat-trick goal, slamming the ball in from 25 yards, after Tzimas had narrowed the gap with a free-kick. Van Gelder notched a seventh for Leeds in the final minute.
Against Northumbria, a superlative free kick from Purdie after five minutes proved a false dawn as the north-east side ran riot in an 11-1 win.
With York’s small squad struggling with fatigue and knocks against combative opponents, goals flowed regularly, notably after half-time when a creditable 3-1 scoreline turned into a double figures drubbing.
“We’ve definitely seen the effect of having a small squad,” said Daly. “We were missing loads of players today through various circumstances and we can’t really cope with that.
“I’d say 60 per cent of the goals were just through lack of concentration and mistakes. If we had more players that wouldn’t have happened.
“We can’t pinpoint anything here we’re doing technically wrong, it was just a matter of fitness. Injuries permitting, with a full squad, we still have a chance of qualifying.”
Ambrozejczyk added: “All the other teams are finally getting to our level. York were the benchmark and now the financial pinch is hitting us big time. With teams like Leeds Met, they have all national league players and a squad of 12 good players so you’re really up against it.”