Scott Shulton was the hat-trick hero as Maccabi GB Futsal climbed to the top of the London Futsal League Division Two South following a thrilling 4-4 draw against LB Herts.
The Maccabi team were keen to build on last week’s opening 7-2 win over Sport London Benfica and they maintained their unbeaten start, with Sam Sollosi also finding the net.
After an impressive display the previous week, confidence was brewing in the Maccabi camp. There was no Nick Landesberg who was crucial to the success MGB had the previous week in hold-up play as a pivot and as a genuine outlet. Nevertheless MGB started in explosive fashion, keeping the ball and moving LB Herts around the court with quick and clever decision-making.
With no 'out and out' pivot on court to start for Maccabi, each player took turns in going high up the court for Maccabi and this worked well with some clever footwork by Sollosi creating openings, but the young playmaker didn't mange to pull the trigger to make the possession count.
Player-manager Jon Kurrant was finding his range and testing the fingers of the Herts goalkeeper and Alex Olcot was unlucky not to get on the end of a couple of ricochets that could easily have ended up in the Herts net.
With all the possession, the opening came goal was scored by Herts putting MGB on the back foot slightly. Cue Jonah Gordon-Boyd and Dean Benzaken into the fold and their decision-making with quick feet were soon on display once again. MGB were once again in control when a wobble could have occurred but the youngsters on court with Alex Norman and Shulton continued to wreak havoc on Herts' defences.
Pressure told and the ever growing confidence of Shulton created MGB's opener. Stealing the ball in a defensive diamond structure, Shulton catapulted down the length of the court, shooting early and gaining a helpful deflection that left the Herts' keeper stranded at the near-post, 1-1.
Herts' began to grow into the game, and were unlucky not to go ahead after runners were not tracked; Jordan Davidson was aware and made a few smart stops in order to keep the proceedings level.
Time was passing by with no team gaining the upper hand when Shulton's pace told again for the visitors. Shulton making another marauding run down the line past his opponent found Sollosi at the back post for the latter to coolly slot home past the helpless goalkeeper MGB finally in the lead, 2-1.
Shortly after Kurrant had a couple of opportunities saved with the keeper parrying the ball to safety. Sammy Kingston, making his debut for MGB, was unlucky not to to put MGB even further ahead with half-time approaching when a cutback, by the inform Shulton, wasn't converted with the keeper to beat.
The set-pieces from Maccabi were also having an effect, corner after corner Maccabi were able to find Olcot free but was unable to find a way through the impressive Herts keeper who was instrumental all game.
Just before the break Maccabi were to rue their missed chances with a strike from distance too strong for Davidson to hold at his near-post and could only palm the ball into the net and the teams went into the half-time break with plenty to reflect as the contest was evenly poised at 2-2.
Herts went 3-2 up from restart, MGB standing off and the pivot shooting early deceiving Davidson and nestled in the bottom right hand corner.
MGB looked like they could be under pressure. No sooner had the third goal gone in, Herts were 4-2 up, a counter-attack left an easy tap in back post and MGB had to reassemble quickly or risk not only losing the game but being embarrassed.
Sollosi, Shulton, Olcot and Kurrant again partnered the field and it wasn't long before Shulton got one back for MGB, a shot by Olcot was parried by the keeper before a melee allowed Shulton to smash the ball into the net, 4-3.
This breathed life into the MGB attack and a flurry of Kurrant and Shulton shots were raining in at the Herts keeper, who was easily their best player, at his back post and kept Herts in the lead.
Shulton went on to complete his hat-trick a few minutes later when another counter-attack down the right flank allowed the skipper to use all of his back lift and crash the ball to the near-post.
MGB had done it and were level once again in the match. Along with all the drama, Maccabi had gained five fouls for them meaning the next foul would create a 10m penalty for the away side. MGB capitalised when Olcot was brought down in his own half. Kurrant took the resulting spot kick (further than the 6m penalty if fouled in the box), wrong footing the keeper by curling just over the right hand side of the bar.
Kurrant and Shulton, with the assistance of Sollosi, continued to pepper the Herts goal, but lady luck shined on the Herts goal and left the Maccabi side feeling like they had missed out on two points rather than gaining one.
Man of the Match for Maccabi was the captain, Scott Shulton for an energetic and goal-frenzy performance that was crucial to earning a point.
Maccabi now sit top of the National League South Division 2 after the game between F.C Enfield vs Kickers was postponed. Maccabi next play Kickers at Scorecentre, Leyton on 10th November, KO - 10am
MGB team: Davidson, Olcot, Shulton, Sollosi, Kurrant. Substitutes: Gordon-Boyd, Donne, Benzaken, Norman, Kingston, Sheldon, Marrache
MGB scorers: Shulton (7, 26, 34), S.Sollosi (14)