Fixture: FA National Futsal League (Midlands Division)
Date and time: Sunday 4 November 2012 at 3pm
Score: Team Bath 5 – 6 Oxford Lions
Venue: Founders Sports Hall, University of Bath
Lions steal victory from Bath in fascinating game of futsal.
Overnight snow could not stop a vocal crowd filling the Founders Sports Hall to see home side Team Bath take on the only team to defeat them in the league last year, rivals Oxford Lions.
What was billed pre-match as the biggest fixture so far in the Midlands Division did not disappoint, producing a nail-biting game of futsal, including 11 goals and a sending off.
A tight first ten minutes saw Oxford take the initiative with some clever attacking play. However, Bath stayed strong and defended well, frustrating their opponents.
Oxford broke the deadline shortly after the half-way point of the first half with a disguised shot from ten yards out, catching out ‘keeper Dix who had previously made some fantastic saves to keep Bath level.
Despite a regroup and a ‘time-out’ called by player-coach Kitson, Bath could not get on the scoresheet with Parkes hitting the post twice and Kitson forcing a super save from the Oxford goalie.
Oxford snatched a second with minutes remaining, countering a Bath attacking move with 3 against 1, leaving Dix helpless in the Bath goal.
With the score at 2-0 at the break, the crowd could not have expected the deluge of goals in the second half.
Within minutes of the restart, MOM Ballinger fired a thunderous free-kick into the top corner to make it 1-2 and Kitson levelled with a left-footed strike from outside the area after Ballinger’s disguised pass from a free-kick. Oxford were shell-shocked.
Oxford then capitalised on a defensive error to make it 3-2 before Kitson once again levelled the scores at the back post from another Bath set-piece, this time the cross came from Parkes.
The tight score-line and tense atmosphere led to some heated tackles and several yellow cards, with Oxford going down to four men after a player was sent off for a second yellow for simulation. Bath immediately capitalised on their one-man advantage, moving the ball quickly before Ballinger’s diagonal pass cut through Oxford’s defence to find Jennings at the back post to make it 4-3.
A sending off in futsal does not mean 5v4 for the whole game; Bath’s goal meant Oxford could reintroduce a fifth player at the restart. With numbers restored, the away side then once again produced some fine attacking flair and levelled the game at 4-4. Thirty seconds of madness ensued.
Whilst Oxford celebrated their equaliser, Parkes was sharp enough to take a quick kick-off and find Ballinger on the left wing, who took one touch and fired the ball home to restore home-team advantage. Oxford were kicking themselves. Nonetheless, from kick-off Oxford rotated the ball to the left wing, beat the Bath defender and drilled the ball across to tap in at the back post, restoring parity once more.
Both teams were on five fouls for much of the second half, leading to an incredibly tense end to the game.
Oxford managed to steal a sixth a few minutes from time and, despite Bath’s best attempts at the ‘fly-goalkeeper’, held on for a hard earned victory against the rather unlucky home side. Bath will be looking for revenge in the return fixture at Oxford, and if this match is anything to go by, it will be another game worth watching.
Team: Dix (GK), Ingram (C), Kitson, Parkes, Ballinger; Jones (GK), Bell, Gardiner, Guttridge, Horlock, Jennings, Yilmaz.