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WOMEN: Skarratt expecting tricky contest against Bristol City

by Liz Owen

Manchester Futsal Women’s Club captain Leanne Skarratt knows that tomorrow’s encounter against Bristol City will provide her side with another tough Super League test.

Bristol suffered a 6-2 defeat to Gloucester University in their first league fixture two weeks ago, while Manchester remain unbeaten after picking up four points from their opening two games.

However, Skarratt is aware of Bristol’s strengths and feels Manchester must improve at the back following their 4-4 draw against Enfield.

“Bristol are a very impressive team – they won the FA Futsal Cup last year and have got a lot of experience in the squad,” she said.

“It will be a great challenge for us to play against them, especially as they were the best women’s futsal team in the country by quite a distance last season.

“They may have lost their first league game this season, but we will always expect them to be strong opposition and difficult to beat.

“Our game against Enfield was quite a frantic one and we need to take on board the negative aspects from the match; the main one being our defending at certain points in the game.

“We want to play with a bit more composure and be more compact – to go back to basics defensive-wise.”

Aiding Manchester’s preparations for Saturday’s game was a competitive friendly against England Deaf Women’s team last week, in which the national side ran out 7-4 winners.

“One of our players Becky Pilkington is an FA Skills coach and knows the coach of the England team,” Skarratt said.

“We have played them a few times before and they like the way we play. They see us as suitable opponents to warm up for the World Cup in Thailand next week and that’s a great compliment for us.

“It was a good, competitive game and I think we did really well despite having a few players missing through injury. We created quite a few chances and perhaps could have scored a few more goals ourselves.”

Skarratt and Carol Agostinho both got onto the scoresheet against England, while new addition Siobhan Watson bagged a brace on her debut.

Unfortunately Watson is unavailable to play tomorrow and joins another five players unable to feature against Bristol.

Skarratt discussed her side’s various absentees and talked through the goalkeeping crisis that they have had to deal with this week.

“With Bruna Fontes banned after her sending off against Enfield, we found ourselves in a difficult situation when Ana Marques broke her toe during last Friday’s Futsal Fives,” she explained.

“We have now have Leanne Smith available to play in goal against Bristol – she plays for Just a Ball Game in our local Manchester futsal fives league.

“They reached the national finals of the FA Futsal Cup last year so Leanne has played at a good level and it’s brilliant for us that she’s stepping in to rescue us tomorrow, especially as Ana will be out for around six weeks now.

“Jess Hickman suffered a bad ankle injury against Enfield and although fortunately she didn’t break it, it looks like she will be sidelined for a while with ligament damage."

Elsewhere, Becky Pilkington has been out for seven months with a broken ankle and is undergoing rehab for her injury, while Celeste Gardner is also unavailable tomorrow.

Manchester Women’s Futsal Club face Bristol City Futsal Club at Birmingham Futsal Arena on Saturday 14th November, kicking off at 10.00. Follow live match updates via their official Twitter account @MFCWomensFutsal and stay tuned for an official match report on manchesterfutsal.com

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