MGB Futsal are top of the league
Maccabi GB Futsal's impressive unbeaten run continued on Sunday and sit three points clear at the top of the London Futsal League Division Two South table after a frenetic encounter that had everyone watching and involved on the edge of their seat.
Clinical finishing and essential possession committed by aggressive positive movement from MGB proved the difference in clinching victory.
Kickers were always going to be tough opposition for MGBF, having been long-term occupants in Division One and a team boasting a wealth of experience in futsal; countered with the lack of experience MGB had in their ranks. Four players made their debuts for MGB with Taylor Gershon, Gideon Barnett, Phil Caplin and Danny Sugarman entering the fray, highly and the quality and depth of this growing squad.
MGBF started the game as strongly as they have done in the previous two matches of the National League, keeping the ball extremely well, shifting the ball side to side, however lack of movement at the start meant little penetration and Kickers were happy to sit and soak up the pressure.
It soon became apparent what Kickers' game-plan was - they were to zone up and defend and try and break on the counter. This game-plan was evidently working as due to the lack of movement from MGB, Maccabi were susceptible to overplaying and getting caught and this is what eventually told at the beginning of the match.
Interspersedly, Scott Shulton in fine goal-scoring form as top goal-scorer for MGB was shooting on sight and Sam Sollosi was again testing the keeper from range forcing a flurry of saves. Alex Olcot went closest for the away side with a stinging effort just tipped over the bar.
Kickers were not without their own chances, almost all were on the break and countering with blistering speed, caught Maccabi out too often.
The breakthrough came when Jon Kurrant's corner was intercepted and a two versus one counter ended in Kickers sliding the ball beneath the onrushing Jordan Davidson to make it Kickers 1-0.
MGB soon made amends, and great play from Shulton down the left flank culminated in him squaring a pass to Barnett who 'broke his neck' to get to the back post and tap in from close range. Great attitude and a quick comeback from Maccabi.
Kurrant began to find his range with a few efforts slamming wide of the keepers upright, and Donne was linking up the play nicely when moving into the middle; MGB were starting to move well. A few minutes later and after firm passing from the away side again, possession told: Benzaken played a deft scoop into debutant Gershon and with a sublime first touch, turned the cierre for Kickers and expertly finished through the keepers legs, Maccabi for the first time were ahead, 1-2.
The lead lasted little under a minute, poor defensive shape meant MGB were out of position, the result was the pivot for Kickers setting a runner breaking through the middle and powering the ball into the bottom left hand corner, arguably against the run of play Kickers were right back in it, 2-2.
More chances were occurring either end, but Maccabi were still dictating play and for all the possession a fortuitous goal meant MGB regained the lead. Shulton from a corner, was quick to act on poor zonal marking from Kickers and flashed the ball off the keeper, 2-3.
Not only were Maccabi moving the ball more freely and dangerously but pressure off the ball was increased too, MGB could smell blood. Great pressure by Shulton and the Kurrant mean the latter bared down on goal and caressed the ball into the bottom corner, 2-4.
Maccabi were threatening to run riot and finished the half 2-5 up when a quick counter by the away team meant Barnett returned the favour for Shulton and smashed the ball back-post for the skipper to gain his brace and sixth in three games to give MGB a 5-2 lead at half-time.
After the break, the same lessons from the previous match had not been learned and Maccabi were the architects to their own downfall. Shulton tried to take the pivot on in the cierre position close to goal and after losing out the ball was poked beneath debutant Caplin, 3-5. Shortly after, Kickers were back in it, from poor defending and another counter, the score now 4-5.
Both teams were racking up the foul count, and a foul on the edge of the Kickers box in a dangerous position allowed Kurrant to shoot and smash the ball into the roof of the net, restoring the two-goal lead MGB had just before and calmed a few nerves, 4-6.
The game became bitty and scrappy and the next goal was going to be vital in the momentum change of the game. Unfortunately, Kickers capitalised shooting from range and a deflection took the ball out of Caplin's reach and nestled in the net, 5-6.
Minutes went past and it seemed the small lead MGB had was playing into Kickers favour, as more chances flashed wide of Caplin's goal and the pressure was building. Donne was getting more into the game and caused himself a nuisance, and against the run of play Kurrant picked up a loose ball and competently dispatched the ball into the bottom corner, a huge sigh of relief and the all important two goal lead was restored once again, 5-7.
Kickers had nothing to lose and with time running out, threw everything but the kitchen sink at MGB. Kickers power-played with five to go, and MGB resisted well, until the ball ended up at the MGB back post and an unfortunate handball by Norman in the box, who had defended heroically, meant a 6m penalty for Kickers, who dispatched the ball to make it 6-7.
Caplin made a couple of decisive saves with a minute to spare, and a heart in mouth moment occurred with the last kick of the game. Barnett brought down a Kickers winger on the half way line, resulting in the 6th foul and a 10m penalty for Kickers. Up stepped the captain and flashed the ball wide of the goal and resulting in MGB taking a prize scalp and three points clear of the Southern National League Division 2 table.
Man of the Match for MGB was Alex Olcot for his gritty determination as cierre and essential decision-making at key moments in the game.
MGB have a week off this week before facing F.C Enfield Futsal on November 24 at Sport House, Barking.
Maccabi GB Futsal starting line-up: Jordan Davidson, Alex Olcot, Dean Benzaken, Scott Shulton, Gideon Barnett. Subs: Taylor Gershon, Oli Donne, Alex Norman, Daniel Sugarman, Sam Sollosi, Jon Kurrant, Phil Caplin