A five-goal salvo from star man Alex Olcot inspired Maccabi GB Futsal to an impressive 11-4 victory over Braintree to maintain their strong position in the London Futsal League Division Two South.
Complacency was the main agenda that was always going to be needed to address during the trip to Braintree for MGB who were in fine form having won their last two games against extremely strong opposition and were undefeated in their opening four games of the season.
They were facing a side bottom of the table, having one win all season and an extremely poor goal difference of -24. Due to commitments and injuries MGB fielded a squad of eight, three lower than any other games this season and welcomed another debutant into the fold, Aviel Schwarz. The court was smaller than what many of the Maccabi side had experienced before and this meant a change of tactics, most of which would have been foreign for many of the inexperienced squad, having played just four games at this level in futsal.
For the first time this season, MGB started on the back foot. Braintree were thriving off being unanimous underdogs and were pressing with intensity and a 'we have nothing to lose' dogged attitude that was putting Maccabi off of their game. In the opening exchanges, player-manager Jon Kurrant went close on three occasions, finding himself in one-on-one situations and getting the better of his opposite number, flashing opportunities wide of the back-post and forcing saves from the Braintree no. 1.
Braintree were not without their own set of chances, their best being a ball squared to the edge of the box and with the goal gaping, mis-controlling the ball and losing the chance to finish and go in front.
Arguably against the run of play, MGB opened the scoring from a set-piece. Dean Benzaken played the ball parallel to Kurrant before he diverted the ball toward the back-post. Olcot was there to tap home and send MGB ahead, 0-1.
No sooner had MGB gone in front, Braintree were back in the match and levelled with some very poor defending, a theme throughout the first half, from MGB: A free-kick conceded on the edge of the area meant Braintree could have an opportunity at Davidson's goal, the wall did not do its job, splitting and deflecting the ball past Jordan Davidson who could do nothing.
Braintree came close on a couple of occasions - with the ball flashing wide of the upright - before Maccabi went 1-2 up. Kurrant picked the ball up from the cierre position, space opened up which was gratefully accepted and the ball smashed home from 12 metres.
MGB went on to open up a two-goal cushion; Kurrant slipped the ball into Shulton on the wing. The skipper than played the ball into Olcot who pinned his defender as a pivot and played the 1-2 for Shulton to wrap his foot around the ball and smash it into the stanchion, 1-3.
Once again, in every game, when Maccabi look to be making daylight between themselves and their opposition, poor decisions left MGB's defence vulnerable and Braintree took full advantage; Kurrant took the corner and from MGB's own set-piece, a blocked shot ricocheted to Braintree who countered with speed, squaring the ball for a tap-in at the back-post, 2-3.
This clearly put Braintree's tail up and once again pressed with intensity and conviction. A mirror of Braintree's previous goal was scored 30 seconds later, a blocked shot was then countered with pace, and instead of squaring, Braintree struck and caught Davidson off guard at his front post, Braintree were level again and complacency had well and truly hit for MGB, 3-3.
Something had to change: Alex Norman, Benzaken, Olcot and Kurrant restored some stability as a four on court and MGB's pressure which had been non-existent to this point, started to increase. Kurrant nicked the ball on the half-way line and countered with pace, Olcot - who had clearly listened to his manager regarding his finishing, sprinted to the back-post. Kurrant slipped him in and another finish gave Olcot his brace and once again MGB were ahead, 3-4.
There was no room for chances, as each chance was flying in, and again Braintree were level - poor defensive tracking, resulting in runners from Braintree not being picked up resulted in a back-post squared ball and the ball was poked under Davidson, this was not only frustrating to watch for MGB but they had not even come out of second gear yet, 4-4.
After the break MGB came out with more motivation and assurance, having been outplayed in the first half not by Braintree's good play but through lack of initiative. Controlling the majority of possession Maccabi were on top and finally started to dictate the tempo. Benzaken was moving well and coupled with Maccabi's pace of the ball, Braintree were getting frustrated, culminating on an over-the-ball sliding tackle on Benzaken and a red card for Braintree.
MGB took full advantage on Braintree's temporary 4-man outfield and moved the ball and created a chance with Kurrant volleying against the post after reading a poor pass from Braintree. The inevitable goal was scored moments later when a poor clearance presented Kurrant with just the keeper to beat, before confidently slipping the ball left of the keeper and MGB 4-5 in front.
It was all Maccabi from here and Benzaken went close from a rehearsed set-piece, that just went over the bar. Braintree did not do much to help themselves and as tempers boiled, another Braintree player was sent off, this time for dissent to the referee on a sideline decision, they were once again back down to four men.
Soon after the 6th was scored for MGB: Shulton pressed well and slid the ball into the path of Schwarz, Schwarz dummied for Olcot to complete his hat-trick and once again restore the two-goal cushion for Maccabi.
Shulton then got his brace with an individual effort that personified class when he took it round the whole Braintree team including the keeper and finishing with the outside of his foot, 4-7.
Schwarz and Norman started to pull the strings for MGB, moving the ball with pace and precision, resulting in Olcot and Shulton scoring twice more each leaving the score ending 4-11.
Although the scoreline is flattering, MGB have a few things to work on before their next match against Sport London Benfica next Sunday.
Man of the Match once again was Olcot for being one of the few that were on the ball from the start and a much seen improvement in his position and finishing.
Starting V: Jordan Davidson, Alex Olcot, Dean Benzaken, Scott Shulton, Jon Kurrant. Subs: Alex Norman, Jonathan Marrache, Aviel Schwarz
Goal-scorers: Olcot (5), Shulton (4), Kurrant (2)