A brace each for Alberto Morcillo, Toby Hardwick, Monty Bouttell and Angel Martinez saw the U’s defeat Manchester FC 5-8 at Belle Vue to all but guarantee a fourth place finish in the FA National Futsal League.
The U’s started the far better of the two, and would have been disappointed to find themselves a goal down after five minutes when a lapse in concentration was punished. However Alberto Morcillo was on hand to level matters two minute before Manchester restored their lead against the run of play.
Again though Luis Mendonca’s side responded to equalise almost immediately through a long range effort from Angel Martinez to make it 2-2.
The game ebbed and flowed for the remainder of the first half in what was a highly entertaining clash in front of a large Manchester crowd at Belle Vue, which included a small but noisy U’s away support. It seemed certain the match would remain on level terms until some excellent team interplay saw Bouttell tee up Morcillo for his second of the game on the stroke of half time, earning United a 2-3 lead at the break.
They were pegged back early in the second half, when another lapse of concentration at a Manchester set piece saw the home side level the score line.
United Coach Luis Mendonca therefore decided to tweak his tactics with the U’s pressing higher up the court with great intensity, putting Manchester under sustained pressure and forcing errors. It proved to be a masterstroke as the pressure told almost immediately when Toby Hardwick made it 4-3 to the U’s from close range before securing his brace five minutes later, to open up daylight between the sides.
Manchester managed to hit back to give them some hope at 5-4 but Cambridge responded almost immediately to restore the two goal cushion again through man of the match Angel Martinez for his second of the game.
United’s Monty Bouttell is currently joint top goal scorer in the National Super League and soon got in on the act too, firstly intercepting possession followed by a clinical finish to make it 7-4 before calmly slotting home from his own half with Manchester’s fly goal keeper out of position.
The host’s scored a late consolation goal and United youngster Greg Birch’s goal bound effort was unlucky to hit the post with almost the last kick of the game but Cambridge saw the match out for a fantastic 8-5 win.
The victory proved doubly important as Cambridge United not only look to have cemented 4th place in the FA Futsal National Super League, but third placed Birmingham could only manage a draw against a struggling Oxford City, so the U’s are now just two points behind with five games remaining.
The U’s play their final home game of the season after the Easter break when they face Oxford City in futsal’s own varsity match at the University of Cambridge Sports Centre on Sunday 8th April.
Goals – Alberto Morcillo (2), Angel Martinez (2), Toby Hardwick (2), Monty Bouttell (2)