V futsal Jon Kurrant believes the Maccabi GB Futsal team is ready to compete at the next level after beating title rivals Kickers Futsal 5-3 to move seven points clear at the top of the FA National Futsal League South Division Two.
A hat-trick from top-scorer Scott Shulton and one apiece from Sam Monjack and player-manager Kurrant preserved Maccabi’s unbeaten record in a match they trailed in.
The organisation and knowledge of Kickers Futsal was no match for the guile of Maccabi. The superior fitness, speed and attacking prowess of the Community’s only top Futsal team proved the difference in this fiercely contested encounter where Maccabi GB came out on top.
Three new faces were introduced to the Maccabi squad, with goalkeeper Dan Lipman, Sam Monjack and Scott Kashket coming in.
There was no love lost between the top two teams in the division. In the previous encounter, Maccabi GB won 7-6 away at the Score Centre, Leyton. And there was no respite this time with strong tackles flying in left, right and centre at Sport House.
In front of a packed crowd, it was Kickers who took control of the game from the offset. The away team were not sitting as deep as the first game and looked to press the Maccabi GB boys higher up the court. It was effective and saw them winning the ball nearer to the Maccabi GB goal.
Lipman was called into action on numerous occasions as Maccabi GB let runners go too often. This continual lack of focus, and good movement from Kickers, soon allowed the away side to go in front. An unmarked player bore down on Lipman’s goal and slid the ball to the back post for a tap-in to send Kickers’ bench into raptures. They knew how pivotal the first goal was and their tails were well and truly up. 0-1.
MGB started to find their passing feet, but looked most dangerous when Kickers were forcing their passes. This allowed Maccabi GB to counter with pace; top-scorer Scott Shulton, player-manager Jon Kurrant and Max Kyte all going close.
Finally the countering pressure told. Kurrant and Shulton shut down a Kickers winger before the former was set free against the goalkeeper. The Kickers keeper set his position well, cutting the angle down for Kurrant before he jinked back inside. MGB’s player-manager exchanged another one-two with Shulton before flashing the ball high into the roof of the net. It was now game On at 1-1.
Fouls were starting to be committed by Kickers Futsal, with MGB racking up a five-foul count - meaning the sixth would be a 10m penalty to the home side.
Instead of fuelling Maccabi GB into action, Kickers were the ones who enjoyed more of the spoils. Continuing their free-flowing game and pressurising high up the court, it was not long before they were ahead once again. A seemingly safe sideline for Kickers turned into a dangerous pass when a scoop, parallel down the line, caught MGB napping and the striker managing to clip the ball just before Lipman could close the angle. It rolled agonisingly into the net to make it 1-2 to Kickers Futsal at half-time.
MGB changed their plan after the break. From zoning and pressurising, they decided to see what Kickers were made of and full-pressed three quarters of the court. The result was that Maccabi were getting the ball back a lot quicker to kick-start their attacks.
Kashket and Jonah Gordon-Boyd managed to have more success on the ball. Kyte was becoming more influential, recycling the ball for Shulton and Kurrant to start dictating play for the home side once again.
Soon, Shulton was released down the left flank. Using his speed he nicked the ball past the Kickers winger, receiving a poor challenge and giving the Kickers player a second yellow card. Kickers were down to four men, giving MGB a chance to call a time-out and organise their attack tactically with the numerical advantage.
This paid divends and with Kashket, Monjack, Kurrant and Shulton on court, they were moving the opposition back and forth, side to side, before Shulton sneaked in and shot past the keeper. It came off the post and hit a defender before rolling into the net. 2-2.
This meant Kickers were now allowed their fifth man on court, but Maccabi GB could smell blood and increased their pressure. No sooner had parity been restored, Shulton stole the ball as cierre, broke and spread the ball to Kurrant who was sprinting down the right flank. Kurrant fizzed the ball to the back post, where Shulton was there to wrap it past the keeper for the crowd to rise off their feet. With relieved applause echoing around the arena, finally Maccabi GB were in control of the game. 3-2 to Maccabi GB.
A sixth foul was committed by Kickers, meaning a 10m penalty to MGB. Kashket stepped up but chipped his effort to the thankful goalkeeper, a chance spurned.
This was turning into a game of two halves. Monjack and Kashket were poles apart from their first half performances and were starting to run the show in possession. Monjack received the ball near the left hand side of the Kickers goal and shot with his weaker left, deceiving the goalkeeper at his front post and making it 4-2.
A seventh foul by Kickers meant yet another 10m penalty. However, Maccabi GB had not scored one of these all year. Kurrant was the taker this time and he too missed, smashing the ball at the keeper. Another chance gone and Maccabi GB could yet rue these crucial misses.
Kickers managed to pull a goal back when confusion in the MGB zonal defence meant a runner was left free to smash the ball to a teammate at the back post for an easy tap-in. 4-3 the score and now a nervous finale awaited.
However, the game was sewn up when the Kickers pivot lost his head and slapped Norman off the ball, meaning another foul resulting in another 10m penalty and another sending off for Kickers. Shulton stepped up and guided the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs to wrap up the game.
The well-earned three points sent Maccabi GB seven points clear at the top of the table.
Kurrant said: "The game changed when they lost their discipline, but it was because our decision-making and increased movement that caused their heads to go.
"It was definitely a game of two halves — our character showed yet again and to pressurise and attack the way we did in the second half against a well-organised, well-drilled and experienced team shows we can compete at the next level."
Maccabi GB’s next game is against LB Herts on January 26.