After finishing bottom of the last ASB Futsal National League, Central Manawatu made a good fist of the opening day of Series 1 of the 2013 competition, heading the table after taking a win and a draw from their first two matches.
With former YoungHeart Manawatu ASB Premiership players Adam Cowan and Nathan Cooksley influential, the Central side shared the spoils from an entertaining opening game of the league; a 4-4 draw with Mainland, before thumping Waikato Bay of Plenty 8-3 in their second outing.
The key moment in the Mainland contest came with 11 minutes to go with the score tied at 3-3 as Jerram Tuck forced Mainland goalkeeper Hamish Watson to handle outside the area. Watson was dismissed and he was joined by team mate Evandro Madruga after arguing the decision from the bench.
With Mainland down to four players, Cowan put the Central Football side ahead but the South Islanders levelled a minute later via Kaiea Karennang.
Both sides had chances to take all three points in the final stages with the posts, crossbar and both goalkeepers coming to the rescue of each side as each team took a point to open the 2013 edition of the ASB Futsal League in entertaining style.
Cooksley then backed up his side’s second match, scoring a hat-trick as Central Manawatu romped clear of Waikato Bay of Plenty in the second half, scoring five goals to complete an emphatic 8-3 win.
Hosts Auckland Football-East City also recorded a win and a draw from their two matches; opening their account with a hard-fought 5-3 victory over Mainland Futsal before ending the first day of competition with a 1-1 draw with 2013 semi-finalists Futsal South in a cagey battle.
Auckland’s come-from-behind win over Mainland was the most intense clash of the day with both sides willing to match technical flair with physical strength when required.
The opening 20 minutes produced a 1-1 scoreline with Ryan Batty and Marvin Eakins trading goals from dead ball situations. The game roared to life in the second period as six goals poured in while Mainland manager Martin Mitchell was sent from the bench.
Kaiea Karennang scored twice in quick succession from sharp counter attacks to give his Mainland side a 3-2 lead with seven minutes remaining but the home team steadied quickly via Futsal White Dylan Manickum, getting back to 3-3.
As tensions mounted with time winding down, the physical contest was decided in the final two minutes as Michael Freeman scored twice to earn all three points for the Aucklanders.
Auckland’s second match of the day was less spectacular as Manickum broke the deadlock 30 seconds after halftime. But the southern side recovered and equalised via Sean McIntee after Auckland ‘keeper Clayton Chappell had made two sharp saves before the Futsal South player squeezed in the rebound.
Meanwhile, Northern Futsal opened the defense of their league title with an 8-4 win over Central Hawkes Bay.
The neat technical play of veterans Felipe Bernadi, Hicham Kamri and Bakr Al-Saudi headlined the victory in Northern’s only match of the opening day. Player/coach Bernadi and Kamri each struck twice for their side.
Runners-up in the 2012-2013 competition, Capital Futsal earned a narrow win over a plucky Waikato Bay of Plenty team in their first game of the weekend as Futsal White Miroslav Malivuk turned and fired in the winner from three metres with just 90 seconds to go.
Series 1 continues on Saturday at ASB Stadium in Kohimarama with eight matches beginning with Mainland taking on Waikato Bay of Plenty at 10am.
ASB Futsal National League 2013 Series 1 – Day 1
Mainland Futsal 4-4 Central Futsal Manawatu (half: 3-2)
MAI: Daniel Burns, Evandro Madruga, Ryan Batty, Kaiea Karennang
CMW: Khair Jones, Jerram Tuck, Angus Preston, Adam Cowan
WaiBop Futsal 1-2 Capital Futsal (half: 0-1)
WAI: Ben Wallace
CAP: Lucas Silva, Miroslav Malivuk
Mainland Futsal 3-5 AFF Futsal (half: 1-1)
MAI: Kaiea Karennang 2, Ryan Batty
AFF: Michael Freeman 2, Dylan Manickum, Marvin Eakins, Art Twigg
WaiBop Futsal 3-8 Central Futsal Manawatu (half: 2-3)
WAI: Wayne Bates, Samuel Masterson, Kyle Wisnewski
CMW: Nathan Cooksley 3, Khair Jones 2, Jerram Tuck 2, Tyson Brandt
Central Futsal Hawkes Bay 4-8 Northern Futsal (half: 1-4)
CHB: Josh Stevenson, Harrison Gregory, Daniel Ball, Adam Kockelbergh
NFF: Hicham Kamri 2, Felipe Bernadi 2, Bakr Al-Saudi, Ouadhah Ragued, Jan Fischer, Bo Wang
AFF Futsal 1-1 Futsal South (half: 0-0)
AFF: Dylan Manickum
FS: Sean McIntee