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WOMEN: Stunned Skarratt vows her side will bounce back

by Liz Owen

Manchester Futsal Women’s Club captain Leanne Skarratt was left reeling after her side’s heavy 13-5 loss to Gloucester University on Saturday, and spoke of her disappointment as they failed to extend their unbeaten league record.

Despite previously putting in their most impressive performance of the season against Bristol City, Manchester could not build on their 5-1 victory two weeks ago and slipped to an unprecedented defeat, dropping from top spot in the FA National Futsal League in the process.

“There were a fair few things that went wrong on Saturday - the main one being that unlike last time against Bristol, we struggled to do the basic things right,” Skarratt said.

“Gloucester played in a completely different style to Bristol and for some reason we couldn’t respond to it or deal with it.

“We gave away a few sloppy early goals and from then on we were chasing the game. Although I felt we created a lot of chances at the other end, their ‘keeper played very well and if it wasn’t for her I believe we could have scored more ourselves.

“It is really frustrating not to build on the victory over Bristol, and the manner of the defeat especially is really disappointing.

“I hoped we would have taken a lot of confidence from last time but unfortunately we failed to replicate that performance.”

Asked whether the result related more to Manchester not performing as well as usual or Gloucester’s on-field quality, Skarratt replied: “A bit of both.

“They are a strong team who have got some fast, technical players, but we didn’t play anywhere near as well as we did against Bristol and Birmingham.”

With head coach Abdallah Mohamed unavailable to travel, Skarratt took on the role of player-coach for the first time, and admitted the team’s below-par performance made it even more of a difficult challenge.

“It was hard to take on that role, particularly as it was my first experience of it, because the game is so fast-paced and you are having to do a lot at once,” she said.

“You have to concentrate on keeping the mindset of a player but also make substitutions as a manager, and if we aren’t playing well it makes it that more challenging. It was frustrating I couldn’t get on the court more than I did.”

Although it was a difficult afternoon for the skipper, Skarratt remained optimistic as she felt that even in the midst of such a gutting result, there were positives to take.

And, after previously weighing up the good and bad elements of the month’s break in fixtures Manchester now face, she is determined for her and her team-mates to use that time on the training pitch to improve.

“We kept going until the end and we did get a few goals ourselves; we kept our spirits up even during Gloucester’s scoring sprees, and if the girls can pick themselves up and lift their heads up in adversity, mentally that is a good thing,” Skarratt assessed.

“After a result like that, it’s not ideal having to deal such a big gap before our next game as we want to rectify it quickly and get going again.

“But as I said before the game, it does give us time over the Christmas period to work on our game in training.

“So far our performances have been up and down, and as we have a lot of new players this season, perhaps that is to be expected.

“But it was the little things that made the difference on Saturday, small mistakes borne out of not doing the basics correctly, and it’s those things we will work on to come back stronger next time out.”

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