A Monty Bouttell hat trick and Angel Martinez double saw Cambridge United Futsal extend their FA Futsal National Super League unbeaten run to seven with a hard fought draw against Birmingham
Birmingham finished as Super League North Champions last season and had won all previous encounters between the two sides including a 6 – 3 win at the University of Cambridge Sports Centre earlier in the season.
Despite being full of confidence, the U’s travelled with a depleted squad, as the injured Inaki Prado and Toby Hardwick joining Chema Cruz and Pedro Pereira on the side lines, Paulo Rodrigues and Tim Henery unavailable and Greg Birch travelling despite falling ill on the day. Jose Lima replaced Lino Cebey in goal and new signing Nico Papadopoulous made his first appearance for United.
Cambridge started the game well though in what proved to be a cagey first half with United finally making the breakthrough with a fine solo effort from Monty Bouttell to make it 1-0. Despite defending with great discipline, they were finally undone half way through the first period by the very strong Birmingham side. The first half continued to ebb and flow and seemed to be heading for stalemate at half time when some unusually lapse United defending after a time out allowed Birmingham to take the lead through a well worked set piece just before the break.
Within a minute of the restart, Cambridge were level again when a sublime passage of interplay found Bouttell, who finished calmly from close range to make it 2-2.
Cambridge maintained their attacking intent and were soon rewarded when Bouttell again finished from close range for his hat trick and to give United the lead for the first time in the match.
United were flying now and even an experienced Birmingham side were struggling to contain them. Next it was the turn of Angel Martinez, who weighed in with two goals of his own, both near identical delicate chip finishes over the onrushing Birmingham keeper, to make it 5-2 to United. Cambridge kept on making clear cut chances but were unable to take advantage to put the game to bed.
Instead Birmingham regrouped and went ‘fly’ and the extra outfield player advantage soon told as they pulled one back to make it 5-3 with five minutes remaining. A rather rash United challenge in the area was punished by a penalty which Birmingham dispatched coolly to further reduce the arrears to 5-4. Birmingham were throwing everything at United now but Cambridge stood strong until they conceded a fine equaliser with two minutes remaining.
United saw out the remainder of the game despite both teams having chances to secure victory and the game ended honours even at 5 – 5. United maintain their unbeaten run, now seven games, whilst Birmingham’s title challenge appears to be over.
Another fine result for the U’s was only marred by a yellow card for Alberto Morcillo which will see him miss the next game.
This deserved result keeps an ever improving and maturing Cambridge United side in 5th place in the FA Futsal National Super League.
Cambridge United FC Futsal next face York City Futsal at the University of Cambridge Sports Centre on Sunday 4th February 2018 in an 11:30am kick off. The two sides last met two seasons ago in the Play-Off Finals which Cambridge very narrowly won to secure promotion to the Super League, so it is sure to be a close fought encounter, but Luis Mendonca will be aiming for the win to maintain United’s top four challenge and aspirations.
FT: Birmingham Futsal 5 – 5 Cambridge United FC Futsal (HT: 2 - 1)
Goals – Monty Bouttell (3), Angel Martinez (2)