Hat-tricks from Gideon Barnett and captain Scott Shulton helped newly-crowned champions Maccabi GB Futsal maintain their unbeaten run with a thrilling 7-5 victory over Braintree.
With the league sewn up last weekend, thanks to an emphatic victory against LB Herts and elsewhere, Enfield beating Kickers, Maccabi GB could play and work on weaknesses in order to get ready for the much coveted FA Futsal Cup that starts on March 15.
There was a recognisable confidence lingering around every player of the Maccabi GB squad prior to kick-off. Manager Jon Kurrant who was playing his futsal away from Maccabi GB in the top division, gaining experience for his side to be ready for Division One, was quick to make sure that confidence was positive and did not lead to any complacency.
MGB’s young starting V started off very well, passing with pace and moving with intensity. Gordon-Boyd was particularly in the mood, after his fantastic performance last weekend and was picking up where he left off and Gershon looked extremely sharp after falling ill the previous game. However, against the run of play Braintree were soon 0-1 and then 0-2 up when nodding off defensively allowed runners that were not tracked to poke the ball past Phil Caplin in the MGB goal.
The panic button was not pressed as Maccabi GB were carving open Braintree at will with Barnett, Dean Benzaken and Taylor Gershon all going very close before and after conceding the goals.
Braintree were a vastly improved team from when the two sides met last year and were posing a threat on the counter when using their number 9 pivot. However Maccabi GB were the better side on the ball and were soon back in the game.
Barnett notched his first of the game from a back post tap in, which shook Maccabi GB’s finishing back into life; 1-2.
No sooner had the first gone in for Maccabi GB, the second inevitably followed. This time countering with great speed, Bernstein and Shulton combined with a one-two, the former smashing the ball home to level proceedings to make it 2-2 at the break.
Regular goalkeeper Jordan Davidson was given a licence to play outfield and he set the tone for the second half for Maccabi GB’s intensity off the ball defensively. Pressurising all over the court, Barnett grabbed his second of the game with a tidy finish before Shulton, MGB's and the National League South Division Two’s top goal scorer, netted to send MGB 4-2 in front.
An individual error by Bernstein offered a lifeline to Braintree who took full advantage, countering again and finishing into the far post from an acute angle to make MGB think twice; 4-3.
Maccabi GB again opened the two-goal gap and Barnett completed his hat-trick after great play from Gordon-Boyd, who was pressing everywhere, and Oron Sheldon, who was putting great pace of the ball to open up Braintree; 5-3.
The game looked like it had been put to bed mid-way through the second half when Shulton scored his 31st goal of the season, sending Maccabi 6-3 in front and Olcot who had found his pivot-prowess, holding the ball up cleverly nearly extended the lead even further.
But the game of futsal is a telling one and can change in an instant, Braintree came roaring back and scored twice more before Shulton latched on to a stray Braintree pass, and using Barnett as a decoy smashed the ball to the Braintree goal at the near post; 7-5.
Maccabi GB Futsal coach Jon Kurrant said: "I am impressed at how quickly our players are integrating new knowledge into the games. It just shows that the longer and the more intense we are in training our glass ceiling of limitation is going to be pushed higher and higher.
"The stand-out performer was Gordon-Boyd for the second week in a row and is really maturing with every performance."
MGB Futsal conclude their league programme on February 16 at Enfield.
Starting V: 1. Phil Caplin, 5. Dean Benzaken, 6. Jamie Bernstein, 7. Jonah Gordon-Boyd, 12. Alex Norman
Subs: 2. Jordan Davidson, 3. Alex Olcot, 4. Taylor Gershon, 8. Scott Shulton, 9. Gideon Barnett
10. Aviel Schwarz, 11. Oron Sheldon
Shulton (3), Barnett (3), Bernstein