Manchester grind out 3 points against a lively Nottingham
Manchester’s opening bow in the FA Futsal Super League North almost went the way of the top flight newcomers as early season rustiness and individual mistakes nearly proved costly. Fortunately it was Manchester who drew on their experience to take the 3 points in this hard fought game staged at the Sutton Bonington Campus.
Nottingham raced out of the blocks and set about pressing and unsettling Manchester’s new starting five of Parker, Leon, Richardson, Ovechkin and King. Former Manchester player Hamblin was a constant menace with his team mate Leyshon adding an attacking presence for the home side. The home support from the balcony added to the intensity of the opening exchanges but after a neat interplay move they were silenced as Ovechkin calmly passed home his first and Manchester’s opening goal in the FA Futsal Super League North.
Nottingham rallied again, unsettling Manchester’s rhythm and making the opening exchanges into an end to end physical contest. They were rewarded when Hamblin drifted into the box without being tracked before volleying home to level the scores to the delight of the home crowd. It wasn’t long before they were ahead. Further confusion and misplaced passes saw Nottingham dissect Manchester through the centre of the court to fire themselves into the lead. Queue delirium from the home fans.
Manchester composed themselves again and it was the Captain Sam Richardson that duly brought the away side level, slotting home at the second attempt into the bottom corner. Next came a moment of individual brilliance from Stapleton as he audaciously nut-megged the Nottingham defender before arrowing a fine finish into the far corner to make it 3-2 to Manchester – a lead which they thankfully held onto going into the half-time break.
Nottingham to their credit never looked like giving in and Leyshon quickly capitalised on a mistake by Ovechkin to bring them level at the start of the second half. Manchester got a lucky break as Richardson’s cross to the back post was deflected in by the Nottingham defender.
Manchester got some breathing space again as Leon got his first of a second half hat-trick that helped secure all three points for Manchester. His first, a simple toe poke from a set-piece on the edge of the Nottingham area was followed by a mistake by Stapleton to let in Hamblin for Nottingham’s fourth goal. Leon responded with a pile driver from distance before Hamblin got his third and Nottingham’s fifth as he ghosted in at the back post as Nottingham successfully pulled off a fly keeper play.
Leon secured his hat-trick following a great set-back from debutant Atkinson who displayed his expertise in the pivot role for Manchester to help put the away side further ahead. There was still time for King to add an eight goal as he intercepted a pass in his own half and advanced before smashing the ball high into the unguarded net to seal the win.
This was a test Manchester will be glad that they came away with all three points from. Nottingham are a good team and will certainly improve over the course of the season.
Manchester now have an enforced 4 week break before their first home game of the season against Sheffield FC on 25th October at the National Cycling Centre. To buy your tickets now click here