Manchester Futsal Women’s Club fell to a crushing defeat at the hands of Gloucester University, relinquishing both their unbeaten record and their league lead in the process.
Five goals was enough to seal a comfortable win last time out against Bristol City, but although Meida Pociunaite, Lauren Beckford, Celeste Gardner and Carol Agostinho all got onto the scoresheet, it was all in vain as Gloucester ran riot.
Despite testing ‘keeper Rebecca Panniers inside the opening stages through shots by Gardner and Pociunaite, Manchester conceded after only three minutes as Georgia Walters found the bottom corner with a low shot.
And just a further minute later, Walters doubled her side’s advantage and her own tally after catching Ana Marques off her line and finishing centrally following a counter attack.
New addition Siobhan Watson, making her competitive debut, then had two good chances to get her side back into the game.
The youngster prompted two saves from the impressive Panniers; the first after good work from Agostinho, who won possession from Natalie Haigh before spotting her team-mate to her left, and the second an effort from close-range, supplied by Beckford.
Gloucester then struck twice more in two minutes, as Louise Fensome tapped home from Laura McGlone’s right-sided pass, before Chenise Austin scored from a corner kick.
Manchester gave themselves a fighting chance by halving the deficit in the space of a minute, however.
Pociunaite showed good persistence to net the first, ensuring she was quickest to the rebound when her shot hit the post, and Beckford then powered home a close-range volley.
But their joy was short-lived as Gloucester struck twice more in the same time frame; Walters slotting home for her hat-trick, despite Marques’ best efforts, before Fensome bagged another from a swift attack.
To round off an entertaining first half, Gardner scored her first of the afternoon, assisted by Watson, before Austin finished a well-worked team move to give her side a 7-3 lead going into half time.
Captain Leanne Skarratt, taking on the role of head coach in the absence of Abdallah Mohamed, introduced herself into proceedings and almost had an immediate impact.
From her pass, Beckford won a corner with a neat backheel, and Skarratt then attempted to capitalise on the set-piece by dribbling along the byline and angling a shot, but her effort trickled agonisingly along the goal-line before being cleared.
After Gardner fired wide and Marques made a good tipping save over the crossbar from McGlone, Gloucester turned up the heat and added five more goals in six minutes.
A nifty dummied pass by Fensome set up Kerry Walkett to score, who then returned the favour and provided her team-mate with the opportunity to bag her hat-trick two minutes later.
Fensome then added her fourth from close range, before Walters, not to be outdone, also scored her fourth of the game.
And to round off their goalscoring spree, McGlone netted Gloucester’s 12th of the afternoon with a smart finish.
With three minutes remaining, Manchester then scored twice in 60 seconds, and although it was too little too late, it looked to have helped reduce their opponent’s advantage.
Agostinho’s long shot - which may well have taken a touch from Beckford on its way into the back of the net - and Gardner’s close-range effort after good work by Skarratt seemed to at least provide Manchester with a positive ending.
However, after conceding their fifth foul of the half, Manchester then gave away another and Haigh was able to blast home a second-mark penalty one minute from time to round off proceedings for Gloucester.
After Saturday's opponents leap-frogged them to take top spot, Manchester now sit in second place, two points behind Gloucester.
With no league fixtures now until the New Year, Skarratt and her team-mates must wait until their meeting with Oxford City on January 9th to put things right.
MANCHESTER: Marques, Allen, Pociunaite, Watson, Skarratt, Gardner, Agostinho, Beckford
Goalscorers: Pociunaite (14), Beckford (15), Gardner (18, 37), Agostinho (37)
GLOUCESTER: Panniers, Austin, Fensome, Sarobe, Haigh, Walkett, Walters, McGlone
Goalscorers: Walters (3, 4, 16, 33), Fensome (10,17, 31, 32), Austin (12, 19), Walkett (29), McGlone (35), Haigh (39)