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WOMEN: Manchester Futsal 5-1 Bristol City Futsal Club

by Liz Owen

Manchester Futsal Women’s Club remain unbeaten in the National League after a convincing and comfortable victory over Bristol City on Saturday.

Both Leanne Skarratt and Lauren Beckford netted a brace as Abdallah Mohamed’s side demonstrated clinical finishing to seal the victory inside the opening 20 minutes.

Meida Pociunaite also got onto the scoresheet, but Graziely Esperanca thwarted their hopes for a first clean sheet of the season with a second-half consolation for Bristol.

Both sides played out a cautious opening five minutes, as Sara Lorenzo Garcia tested Bristol ‘keeper Rachel Hassall with two early left-sided shots.

Leanne Smith, deputising in between the sticks for Manchester in the absence of suspended Bruna Fontes and injured Ana Marques, began a solid debut with a fourth-minute save from Jordan Guard.

After six minutes, however, the deadlock was broken and the floodgates opened for Manchester who scored all five goals inside the opening 20 minutes.

A well-worked corner kick saw Carol Agostinho play the ball to Skarratt, who fired home from a central position - although the final touch came off Bristol’s Erin Licursi.

Two quick-fire shots from Lorenzo Garcia and Pociunaite were thwarted before, at the other end, Smith leapt confidently to claim the ball ahead of Esperanca.

And Lorenzo Garcia’s industrious efforts paid off after 11 minutes, as she rolled a pinpoint pass across the face of goal for Beckford to turn home for her first of the afternoon.

Beckford then had to wait just 60 seconds to double her tally and put Manchester 3-0 ahead, sliding in to steer the ball into the back of the net from a tight angle after Pociunaite had coaxed the ‘keeper off her line with her pass.

Two minutes later, Beckford returned the favour for Pociunaite, pouncing on a Bristol mistake to claim possession and feed her team-mate, who finished well to put Manchester 4-0 up.

Bristol searched for a response but could not find a way past Smith, who saved well from Esperanca’s 15th-minute strike before stopping Luciana Silva’s close-range effort with her feet.

And Manchester took full advantage by adding their fifth, and best, goal of the afternoon two minutes before the interval.

In a swift counter-attack, Skarratt and Beckford exchanged neat passes all the way upfield, with the latter providing the final ball for the skipper to fire home.

After such a dominant first half, Manchester maintained their threat through Beckford, who pulled the trigger twice in two minutes as strong stops from Hassall prevented her from securing a hat-trick.

With a five-goal advantage meaning the leaders were able to ease off the pressure, Bristol had an attacking spell of their own and replied six minutes into the second half.

Esperanca should have scored mere moments earlier after somehow placing the ball wide from a good position following Amy Wathan’s pass, but she made up for it with a low strike which beat Smith into the bottom corner.

Bristol stepped up a gear but apart from further efforts by Wathan and Silva, they did not pose a threat to an assured and confident Manchester side who held firm to take all three points.

The victory ensures they sit top of the league with seven points from their opening three fixtures, as they prepare to face second-placed Gloucester University in just under two weeks’ time.

MANCHESTER: Skarratt, Smith, Allen, Pociunaite, Beckford, Agostinho, Janczuk, Miterkova, Lorenzo Garcia

BRISTOL CITY: Hassall, Guard, Harris, Wathan, Licursi, Hallsworth, Esperanca, Silva

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