WELLINGTON – Futsal South has taken control of top spot in the ASB Futsal National League after a keenly contested Series Two event in Wellington over the weekend.
Entering Series Two of the three-event season in second place, Futsal South – led by the talents of Brazilian Carlos Herrman – now sit atop the pile with two wins and a draw from their five matches at the ASB Sports Centre in Kilbirnie.
The victories bookended the weekend for the leaders with four-goal results coming over Mainland on Friday and Waikato Bay of Plenty on Sunday. In between, the team recorded losses to Northern and Central Hawke’s Bay while earning a point from an entertaining 5-5 draw with Central Manawatu.
Northern moved into second place, the defending champions losing only one match – Sunday afternoon’s clash with Central Manawatu – while taking wins along the way over Mainland, Waikato Bay of Plenty and Futsal South.
Central Hawke’s Bay were one of the big movers over the weekend, jumping three places into third spot as they took 10 points from their five outings.
Wins over Waikato, Futsal South and Series One leaders Auckland were followed by a 2-2 draw with Capital and a tight 4-3 loss to Mainland on Sunday. The Hawke’s Bay side will head into Series Three at the end of the month in confident mood, knowing they will also have home advantage with the final weekend of competition at Pettigrew Arena in Napier.
Fourth-placed Capital can attest to the impact of the comforts of home, the hosts rocketing up the standings with 11 points from their five outings, ending the weekend as the only unbeaten team.
Friday began with a 2-2 draw with the defending champions Northern before wins on Saturday over Auckland and Central Manawatu gave the home team some great momentum which flowed into Sunday’s victory over Mainland and a draw with Central Hawke’s Bay.
Meanwhile, Series One leaders Auckland struggled in the capital, netting just one point from Saturday’s draw with Mainland while losing their other four matches including a defeat at the hands of bottom side Waikato Bay of Plenty in their final match.
Auckland and Futsal White captain Marvin Eakins said his side had a tough weekend.
“After we got knocked by Manawatu in the first game we thought we could pick up our game and settle things down, but it didn’t quite happen that way,” Eakins said.
“The guys are pretty disappointed and we’ll have to look at whether we have to change a few things around mentally or technically over the next couple of weeks.”
Big improvers in 2013, Central Manawatu continued their development taking another seven-point haul from the weekend’s action.
The Central side – which includes players with ASB Premiership experience in Adam Cowan and Nathan Cooksley – started with a bang in Friday’s 5-1 win over Auckland before successive losses to Waikato Bay of Plenty and Capital on Saturday.
Sunday’s form was much better, a 5-5 draw with leaders Futsal South and a 5-4 win over Northern leaving coach Ian Robinson happy.
“We pulled together a squad for the first series with many guys who hadn’t played much Futsal before and we still came away with seven points from the weekend,” Robinson said.
“So those results set the bar high for this weekend and we’ve come away with seven points again.
“We would’ve liked to have come away with more points, but on Saturday in particular we had three of our top players out and it showed. Otherwise, overall it was a good result; we’re still in the hunt which is the main thing.”
Those top players include Cowan and Cooksley, who made an impression on Futsal Whites’ coach Scott Gilligan.
“I like what Cowan does at the back, the control he shows,” Gilligan said.
“Cooksley is also good, particularly at holding the ball up. These are two critical skills that are needed to enhance our current Futsal Whites squad. We have Mickey Malivuk who does that role currently and it will be good to have players to support him.”
Seventh-placed Mainland have got some work to do if they are to match their fifth-place finish in the last ASB Futsal National League, as the South Islanders were involved in a number of tight contests across the weekend.
Twin 4-2 defeats to Futsal South and Northern started their weekend before a 3-3 draw with Auckland and a 4-3 loss to Capital.
They were able to finish on a good note, taking a 4-3 victory over Central Hawke’s Bay in their final outing.
After going winless in Series One in Auckland, the young Waikato Bay of Plenty team grabbed two victories over the weekend; a 5-1 result over Central Manawatu and a big 3-2 win over Auckland on Sunday.
Interim Waikato Bay of Plenty coach Matt Fejos said his inexperienced team are working hard and their win over Auckland was great for the group.
“The team are made up of some very skilful players who are relatively inexperienced at this level,” Fejos said.
“But they have a great team culture and as underdogs they look out for each other. The knowledge was already there, it was just drawing out their confidence and self-belief which we got through the result against Manawatu. It’s a great result [win over Auckland] and they’re looking forward to Series Three.”
As attention now turns to Series Three in Napier at the end of the month, New Zealand Football Futsal Development Manager Dave Payne was pleased with the skill level on display during the weekend in what is becoming a tight competition.
“Coming into this weekend everyone thought Auckland were going to be the team to beat,” Payne said.
“The close results show the teams have worked hard and improved between the two series. Yet again, some of the teams that weren’t predicted to do so well have gone out and taken on and beaten some of the ‘giants’.
“The level across the whole country now is improving which is good; it means the development that we’re doing is not just in the main cities but further afield in the likes of Waikato and Manawatu.”
The decisive Series Three event of the 2013 ASB Futsal National League takes place in Napier at Andrew Pettigrew Arena from November 29-December 1.