Learning curve for York at national futsal finals

York in action earlier this season

York in action earlier this season

The futsal firsts suffered a set of frustrating results at the BUCS Futsal Trophy finals last Wednesday and Thursday.

York were always going to be punching above their weight when competing with the biggest and best sporting universities in the country, but they can take many positives away from the experience.

The boys in black and yellow got off to a disappointing start in group one of the Trophy, losing 6-2 against Manchester in a game which highlighted the importance of composure and organisation.

Perhaps daunted by the occasion, York were slow out of the blocks as Manchester secured an early two goal lead following some lax marking and a swift counter attack. This set-back saw York’s game plan disintegrate as they panicked and threw numbers forward recklessly.

Although they did create plenty of chances, coming closest when Dom Hallas struck the post and Jonny Brown was denied by the ‘keeper’s face, they were left extremely exposed at the back and Manchester predictably extended their lead to 3-0 before half time.

Regaining a degree of composure after the break, York showed in short phases the quality of futsal they were capable of, and continued to be denied by the woodwork. Alex Reid drilled home a superb free-kick from distance, but frustratingly York conceded two more in quick succession as Manchester extended their lead to 4-1.

Some determined play from Hallas was eventually curled into the top left corner by Angel Sahi to reignite York hopes briefly, but as York continued to push on, Manchester continued to break on the counter attack. Jonny Sim was bombarded in the York sticks and could only limit the damage of two goals being added to the score line which finished 6-2 at the final whistle.

Next up were Brighton seconds, and a much improved all-round performance from York was marred by some costly defensive errors. Although losing 3-1 to the team who would go on to lift the Trophy, York equalled them for the most part and actually played the more attractive futsal.

York zipped the ball around the pitch as they kept possession with composure under the high-pressure tactics of their opponents. However, Brighton seized the lead against the run of play as they dispossessed York and broke unmarked on the counter.

Brighton were gifted a second when a stray pass turned an attacking opportunity for York into a one on one situation which the Brighton forward finished clinically. Unlike the first game, however, York were not fazed by going behind early on and responded calmly. Their passing and movement was eventually rewarded before half time when a Reid rocket fired into the top right corner to make it 2-1.

York looked certain to draw level as they created multiple chances, with Hallas cruelly denied by the post once more. The game-deciding moment was all too familiar for York, as they were once again punished for losing the ball at the back. At 3-1, York’s attacking endeavours failed to breach a resolute and organised Brighton defence who held out until the end.

A praise-worthy performance was only undermined by three moments of defensive sloppiness that were clinically punished.

York knew that a 2-0 victory over Loughborough seconds would secure them second place in a tight group. Another impressive performance in a fast-paced game very nearly saw this happen, but the points were eventually shared with a 1-1 draw that confided York to the foot of the table.

Early on, both sides created opportunities on goal that kept both keepers on their toes. York’s composure and possession was eventually rewarded when in the aftermath of a corner; Hallas blasted a shot goalwards that received a deft flick from Tom Day on its way into the net.

The game tightened up in the second half as fewer clear-cut chances were created. York looked likely to double their lead to the magic two-goal margin as Jon Purdie latched onto a loose ball following a reckless challenge on Sahi, and slotted the ball passed the helpless keeper. However, celebrations were cut short as the referee had brought play back for the free-kick, failing to anticipate the advantage.

The decision would prove to be frustratingly pivotal, as in the very last minute York’s only lapse of concentration in the game offered Loughborough the equaliser, which trickled and span its way off the post and over the line in tauntingly slow motion. As in the previous game, another encouraging performance was not reciprocated in the result.

In the seventh-place play-off, York managed to avoid the notoriety of the ‘wooden spoon’ by securing their first win against Essex. Although emerging as 7-5 victors, they made hard work of it after an extremely sluggish first half performance.

Purdie scored a perfect hat-trick, Hallas bagged a brace, and Ash Daly and James Briars both added their names to the score-sheet.

This experience at the national finals should be part of an important learning curve for a promising York side who at times did show their quality. However, if they wish to compete at the highest level, as they will be next season in the BUCS Northern Premier League, they can learn from the organisation, discipline, and concentration of some of the teams they have just faced.

York: Sim, Hallas, Daly, Day, Reid, Sahi, Brown, Briars, Purdie, Anderton, Robinson

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