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WOMEN: Skarratt’s double secures point in all-action draw

by Michael Henson

Manchester Women’s Futsal Club remain unbeaten in the Women’s National Futsal League after an entertaining 4-4 draw against Futsal Club Enfield at the Birmingham Futsal Arena.

Leanne Skarratt scored in the opening minute and again in the final stages of the match to seal the point, while Lauren Beckford and Celeste Gardner also got onto on the scoresheet.

But it will feel more like two points dropped for Abdallah Mohamed’s side, who relinquished an early 2-0 lead and allowed their opponents back into the game, as Welsh international footballer Sarah Wiltshire netted all four goals for Enfield.

Skarratt’s first-minute goal, a cool close-range finish from Beckford’s low pass, initially felt like it would set the tone for Manchester, as they controlled the early stages.

And it certainly seemed that way as, after off-target efforts by Gardner and Meida Pociunaite, Beckford then doubled their advantage on the ninth minute.

Finding herself in a similar position to her earlier assist, she instead opted to go for goal and rippled the net with a thumping right-sided shot.

Prior to Beckford’s goal, play had stopped for around 10 minutes as Jess Hickman suffered a bad ankle injury and had to be helped from the field.

The stoppage did not seem to faze Manchester and they continued to threaten as Gardner’s angled shot was pushed inches past the post.

But it was Enfield who struck next, pulling a goal back on the 13th minute as Kerryn Copeland set up Wiltshire to score her first of the afternoon.

It seemed to inspire the London side; captain Jade Ramm played a good through ball to Zoe Jackson which was hit just too far for her team-mate to capitalise, before Ana Marques stopped well from Wiltshire, smothering the ball at her feet.

Though Manchester had the final chance of the opening half when Beckford and Carolina Agostinho both went close from a set-piece, Enfield drew first blood after the break, as Wiltshire fired home from the left flank once more.

As both sides strived for the lead, the match became a rather physical encounter with players battling to push forward, and it was Manchester who gained the upper hand shortly before the half-hour mark through Gardner.

After Jenna Kiely saved a Beckford shot, Gardner’s attempt from a corner kick was mishandled by the ‘keeper and allowed to trickle into the back of the net.

It was somewhat of a gift by Enfield - but a mere 60 seconds later, Manchester provided their opponents with another chance to draw level.

A shove on Ramm by Marques prompted the referee to point to the spot, and up stepped Wiltshire to clinch her hat-trick.

Tempers flared as the match entered the final five minutes, as Marques was cautioned and fellow ‘keeper Bruna Fontes was sent off from the bench.

And it was to get worse for Manchester shortly afterwards, with Wiltshire firing low to put Enfield ahead for the first time in the match.

With two minutes left, however, Skarratt ensured her side did not leave Birmingham empty-handed, as a fine solo effort saw her dribble down the pitch and dispatch a close-range effort.

Drama ensued in the final seconds as Enfield felt they had snatched a late victory, but their kick-in was deemed not to have made contact with a player before it found the net, and both teams settled for a share of the spoils.

MANCHESTER: Skarratt (c), Marques, Pociunaite, Agostinho, Beckford, Hickman, Janczuk, Gardner, Miterkova, Allen, Fontes

ENFIELD: Ramm (c), Kiely, Copeland, Whitehorn, Jackson, Wiltshire

Report by Liz Owen

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