02 Jun Helvecia miss out on Grand Finals for first time
Manchester 4-4 Helvecia
FA National Futsal Super League Group A
31st May 2015
A second half Edou Mota brace was not enough to secure Helvecia a desperately needed three points against an inspired Manchester side as the five-time champions crashed out of the Super League.
Earlier in the day, second placed FC Baltic won away against the University of York, meaning that even a Helvecia victory wouldn’t have been enough to send them through to the Grand Finals – the first time they have failed to progress since the inception of the FA National Futsal League.
Pagliuso gave Helvecia the lead before two quick goals from Stuart Cook and Ben Woong turned the tie on its head. Miguel Mota then equalised before half time. Edou Mota opened the scoring in the second half to make it 3-2 before a flurry of goals in the few remaining minutes from Woong, Edou Mota and Eddie Bryers meant that the points were shared at the National Cycling Centre.
Both sides showed great displays of quick pass-and-move routines and defensive capabilities which ultimately lead to cancelling each other out. The result follows a plummet in Helvecia’s form with their third successive draw in as many weeks, following stalemates between the top two sides in the division: Oxford City Lions and FC Baltic.
The best opportunity of the opening five minutes fell to the away side in what was a splendid build up. Marcelo Graca started with the ball in his own half, exchanged passes with Rob Ursell and found Miguel Mota lurking at the back post, with his shot rattling the underside of the bar.
Manchester’s Danny Stapleton hit the post but Helvecia eventually opened the scoring in the ninth minute. Edou Mota dispossessed Cook in defence and passed out wide to Pagliuso who finished accurately in the bottom corner.
The home team, spurred on by a large home support, dominated in a brief period in which they scored twice to put them in the lead. Cook originally went close with what would’ve been an incredible goal after controlling Jordan Parker’s long throw and attempting to lob Mario Gazzoli in the Helvecia net.
He went one better a minute later as he tried to find Sam Richardson with a ground cross from a central position, which evaded everyone in the box, including Gazzoli, and found its way into the bottom corner.
Woong then put Manchester in the lead seconds later assisted by Cook: the Manchester captain’s pass across the box finding Woong in plenty of space and he was able to finish with relative ease.
Helvecia seemed taken aback by the overhaul of their lead but they levelled proceedings in the 15th minute. A free-kick was awarded just outside the box and Miguel Mota had the precision to strike the ball powerfully into the roof of the net, leaving Parker with no chance.
There was chances galore at the beginning of the second period with both teams looking equally likely to take the lead. Ursell and Miguel Mota went close for Helvecia whilst Richardson hit the post and Cook nearly chipped and rounded the goalkeeper with two separate attempts, but was unsuccessful with both.
England International Cook went off injured in the 26th minute which had an evident effect on Manchester as they conceded a minute after. Stapleton gave the ball away too easily from a corner and Helvecia broke quickly, Edou Mota finishing off the goal and making the home team pay for their mistake.
Helvecia were also guilty of surrendering possession from dangerous areas, which lead to Manchester making the score 3-3. Miguel Mota had tried to find Joao Mirable on the opposite flank but his weak pass was easily picked up by Woong who had yards of space to coolly finish past Gazzoli.
Edou Mota scored his second of the game soon after to make sure Helvecia regained their lead. Russel Astle-Coates had replaced Parker but one of his first tasks as goalkeeper was to pick the ball out of the net as he was unable to keep out Mota’s swerving near post strike.
The away team were pegged back yet again as Eddie Bryers scored the goal of the match to equalise the game for the fourth and final time. Bryers was far out from goal on the right wing and took one stride inside before unleashing a bullet into the top corner, a goal that was thoroughly deserved on the balance of play.
There were a few more opportunities with just seconds on the clock to go but Pagliuso and Ovechkin failed to trouble either shot stopper with their late attempts.
Manchester: Cook (13), Woong (13), (36), Bryers (38)
Helvecia: Pagliuso (9), M Mota (15), E Mota (27), (37)
1) Russel Astle-Coates (GK)
3) Aiden Hilditch
4) Abdullah Mohamed
5) Danny Stapleton
6) Giles Collier
7) Ilya Ovechkin
10) Sam Richardson
12) Stuart Cook (c)
13) Jordan Parker (GK)
14) Ben Woong
15) Eddie Bryers
1) Mario Gazzoli (GK)
6) Rodrigo Melo (c)
9) Edou Mota
10) Rob Ursell
11) Joao Mirabile
17) Miguel Mota
28) Marcello Graca
33) Carlos Pagliuso
Report by BILLY TAYLOR