NEWS
England - June 05, 2024 09:00FA National Futsal Series - GRAND FINAL reportManchester 2-1 BloomsburyReport and pictures by Ben Stevens - Total Futsal (X: @totalfutsal - Instagram: @total_futsal_ )

Cover Photo courtesy: Manchester Futsal Club


The English futsal season concluded in style on Sunday as Manchester defeated holders Bloomsbury in the National Futsal Series Grand Final, securing a first UEFA Futsal Champions League qualification in the club’s 18 year history.

Despite a late Richard Ward tap-in, a first half own goal from Toluway Sotonye and Jordan Edge’s 38th goal of the season completed Manchester’s domestic treble, just as Bloomsbury had done last campaign.


FIRST HALF

As English futsal’s two best teams flew out of the traps in front of the TNT Sports cameras, the intensity on court was matched off it by a pulsating crowd.

When Bloomsbury’s Ryan Walsh scythed down Tom Uniatowicz early on, tensions began to rise. Minutes later, when Richard Ward and Raphe Barber clashed, it nearly boiled over.

Amongst the chaos, Bloomsbury enjoyed more early possession but were pushed deeper and deeper by Manchester’s press.

This forced mistakes and opened up transitions from which Ilya Ovechkin’s side were initially wasteful but, with 10 minutes gone, Scott Thompson pounced on a slip from Toluwa Sotonye and his pass to Jeff Adubofour was bundled over the line by the recovering Bloomsbury man.

Manchester, recognising the narrow dimensions of the Repton court, persevered with a direct game plan; sending the ball up to the likes of Adubofour and the impressive Salim Karimi, before pinning Bloomsbury back to protect their lead.

The electric speed of Uriel Araujo and Jake Barnes ensured that even when Bloomsbury did manage to progress, the looming threat of a counter remained.


SECOND HALF

The second half began with much the same energy, this time Bloomsbury squeezing hard and fashioning a number of chances in pursuit of an equaliser. Myles Chadwick, who won MOTM in the Manchester goal, repelled them with a string of incredible reflex saves.

The key battle was between Uniatowicz (20) and Bloomsbury pivot Connor Millar. The former, who will likely be involved with the senior England squad for the start of October’s UEFA Futsal Euro qualifying campaign, was tasked with preventing the Northern Irishman from rolling onto his left foot, which has wreaked havoc across the NFS for years.

It was a mature performance from Uniatowicz, who restricted Millar to snapshots and played out of pressure superbly with a raft of England coaching staff in attendance.

And whilst so many were impressive for Manchester on the day Edge, English futsal’s player of the season, had his say with nine minutes left. The 25 year-old Manchester captain won possession off Eduardo Amorim, burst down the right and fired off a shot from a tight angle, which Dimar Lahoz could only parry into his net.

Bloomsbury made sure of a nail-biting final minute when Ward tapped home Millar’s cross, but Manchester rode it out and made history as their fans swarmed onto the court, engulfing their players.

The North West England-based club, who finished the entire league season unbeaten on the way to the NFS Tier 1 title, will now get their first taste of the UEFA Futsal Champions League preliminary round, which is drawn on July 4th.

And whilst many of their squad will be experiencing European futsal for the first time, their dreams will be of main round qualification.

Only one other English club has ever qualified for the Champions League main round. A Baku United side including Doug Reed, Agon Rexha and Roberto Tobe first qualified for the main round in 2013/14, before reaching the elite round and facing Barcelona in 2014/15.

Now, it's Manchester Futsal Club’s turn. They have been the gold standard for English futsal this season and with an excellent youth academy structure in place, this may just be the start.


FA National Futsal Series Grand Finals (Photo courtesy: TOTAL FUTSAL)



FA National Futsal Series Grand Finals (Photo courtesy: TOTAL FUTSAL)



FA National Futsal Series Grand Finals (Photo courtesy: TOTAL FUTSAL)



FA National Futsal Series Grand Finals (Photo courtesy: TOTAL FUTSAL)



FA National Futsal Series Grand Finals (Photo courtesy: TOTAL FUTSAL)



FA National Futsal Series Grand Finals (Photo courtesy: TOTAL FUTSAL)


FA National Futsal Series Grand Finals (Photo courtesy: TOTAL FUTSAL)



FA National Futsal Series Grand Finals (Photo courtesy: TOTAL FUTSAL)



FA National Futsal Series Grand Finals (Photo courtesy: TOTAL FUTSAL)



FA National Futsal Series Grand Finals (Photo courtesy: TOTAL FUTSAL)




Posted by Luca Ranocchiari --> luca.ranocchiari@futsalplanet.com
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