THE UNIVERSITY of Brighton Men’s Futsal second team, based in Eastbourne, battled to national glory recently by winning the BUCS Futsal 2011-12 Trophy.
In a truly breathtaking final, Brighton finally claimed a 6-3 victory over a brave University of Gloucestershire side after extra-time.
Despite Brighton comfortably leading 2-0, courtesy of goals from Jack Butterfield and Jeff Marshman, Gloucestershire turned the game on its head with three quick-fire second-half goals.
Incredibly, with just 13 seconds remaining, Brighton were awarded a lifeline as a Gloucestershire player was penalised for handball in the area. Sam Goodfellow showed incredible bottle to score the resultant penalty and force the tie into added-time.
The Panthers then used the impetus to finally run away deserved winners. Lewis Smith’s goal reinstated their lead before Adem Mehmet’s double gave the rejuvenated Brighton side the victory their valiant efforts deserved.
The Championships, held at the Institute of Sport in Sheffield and played over a period of two days, are the biggest stage for university futsal. A host of university teams from up and down the country all battle it out to be rightfully crowned national champions.
While Brighton celebrated their pulsating Trophy triumph, the University of Teeside ended up victorious in the equally extraordinary Men’s Championship final, edging past Bath 4-3. In the Women’s Championship final, the University of Durham ran out 4-2 winners after extra time following another epic encounter against Northumbria.
It is a fantastic achievement for the Eastbourne-based Brighton team considering they only formed three years ago under the guidance of Brighton and Hove Albion Youth Coach Ashley Dyer. Dyer created the team with a three-year plan to win the Championships and after a lot of hard-work on and off the pitch, they have incredibly achieved this goal.
Dyer explained: “In the first year we set out just to start up and get used to the game, while in the second year we aimed to qualify for the Championships and just compete, using the experience gained from it to win it in the third year.
“It is a phenomenal achievement and one that we as a club are extremely proud of.”
After waltzing through the group stages with comfortable victories over Loughborough 2nds (8-2), York 1sts (3-1) and Manchester 1sts (9-2), many thought Brighton would thrash their inconsistent opponents in the final. But that wasn’t to be as Gloucestershire proved more than a match for the Panthers, coming within 13 seconds of victory.
However, Brighton went on to show incredible team spirit and character to come back and win a game that they were one kick of the ball away from losing, something that drew particular praise from proud skipper Harry Williams.
“I am on top of the world right now, I can’t praise the boys enough for their efforts, every single one of them should be ecstatic at what they have achieved. Knowing that all that hard work leading up to the tournament has paid off and to win in the manner we did, I couldn’t be more proud,” said Williams.
This same team, with near enough the same group of players, lost every game at this stage last year, proving just how far they have come in such a short space of time.
Meanwhile, the Brighton Men’s Futsal first team, based in Falmer, had to settle for fourth place in the Championship following a narrow 4-3 defeat to Teeside in their final group game to decide who entered the final. The Brighton Girl’s team endured a disappointing tournament, losing all of their group matches. However, they did restore some pride by beating Bristol 3-2 in the 7th/8th place play-off.
With several England players on show at the tournament, including Sam Murphy of the Brighton first team, William Rooke and Neil Morgon of Loughborough and Jason Kilbride of Teeside, surely some of the English scouts will not be able to overlook some of the current Brighton second team players. After all, it is quite hard to go from being nobodies to national champions in three years without being noticed.
The UoB Trophy winning squad:
Harry Williams (c), Sam Welch (vc), Jack Baker, Lewis Smith, Sam Goodfellow, Adem Mehmet, Jack Butterfield, Jeff Marshman, Charlie Booth, Lee Rosborough, Alex Brown, Will Ridgard
BUCS FUTSAL 2011-2012 TROPHY FINAL University of Brighton Men’s Futsal 2nds (Eastbourne campus) 6 – 3 University of Gloucestershire Men’s Futsal 2nds
By Will Ridgard
BRIGHTON and Gloucestershire played their part in one of the most exhilarating finals in recent memory. Jack Butterfield and Jeff Marshman seemingly gave Brighton a comfortable lead but Gloucestershire turned the game on its head with three quick-fire second-half goals.
But Brighton didn’t give up and in the most dramatic circumstances equalised through Sam Goodfellow’s penalty with only 13 seconds remaining on the clock.
This forced the tie into extra time, and with the Panthers having the impetus, there was only going to be one winner. A double from Adem Mehmet and a single goal from Lewis Smith gave the rejuvenated Brighton side the victory their valiant efforts deserved.
Brighton went into the final in a rich vein of form, absolutely cruising through the group stages with comfortable victories over Loughborough 2nds (8-2), York 1sts (3-1) and Manchester 1sts (9-2).
Opponents Gloucestershire, whose first team failed to even qualify for the competition, progressed to the final a little less comfortably. After convincingly beating Essex 2nds (13-4) and Glamorgan 1sts (5-2), they were made to sweat for their place after losing to Derby 1sts (3-2). Fortunately for them a superior goal difference was enough for them to advance.
Both sides started off tentatively, with nerves seemingly getting the better of them, Brighton seemingly struggling to adapt to the softer, stickier surface. But this was forgotten as Butterfield beautifully slammed home in the 13th minute to draw first blood for The Panthers.
Jack Baker kept Brighton in front with a string of impressive saves as Gloucestershire went in search of the equaliser. The Panthers number one then nearly turned from hero to zero as a moment of madness, in which he blasted the ball at the back of the legs of the fully-involved Butterfield, left their striker with an open goal but he somehow poked it wide.
Down the other end, Gloucestershire’s enthusiastic ‘keeper brilliantly denied Sam Welch as the half-time interval loomed.
Half Time Score: Brighton 2nds 1 – 0 Gloucestershire 2nds
The second-half kicked off in much of the same fashion as the first, at a very high intensity. Mid-way through the half Marshman added what seemed like the goal that would seal Brighton as champions. After eluding his marker from a corner, the frontman precisely rolled in his left-footed effort, low and across the ‘keeper.
But within three minutes of doubling their advantage, Brighton were pegged back as an opponent skipped away from the grasps of Marshman to fire past Baker. This set up a nervy finish and with the Panthers already committing five fouls in this half, the game was far from over.
Their fears were confirmed as with only five minutes remaining, the active Butterfield committed a ‘Steven-Taylor-esque’ block with his hand on the goal-line. After much deliberation and confusion, the referee finally decided to give a penalty, with Butterfield, who also claimed an own goal earlier in the tournament, given his marching orders.
As Butterfield trudged up the stairs to partner the anxiously-looking Brighton Futsal President Liam Plumridge and his assistant Jamie Lee, Gloucestershire slammed home the resultant penalty to level the scores.
With the game now getting rather heated, Brighton, growing increasingly frustrated with some of the referee’s decisions, then conceded another penalty as Welch was deemed to have fouled an opponent in an aerial challenge. Despite Baker brilliantly saving the spot-kick, Gloucestershire were able to bundle home the rebound, giving them the lead with little over two minutes remaining.
After calling a time-out, skipper Harry Williams provided a masterstroke as he moved himself upfront to act as a target man with Goodfellow replacing Baker in goal as The Panthers gave one last throw of the dice.
And soon enough Williams played his part in winning Brighton a dramatic last-gasp penalty-kick of their own. After expertly rolling his marker, the ball was trapped and handled by a floored defender with just 13 seconds (unlucky for some) on the clock. After the penalty was finally awarded and the final whistle blew, responsibility laid with Goodfellow to keep Brighton in the trophy. Score and the tie went into extra time; miss and Gloucestershire were the winners. This really was a situation that separates the men from the boys.
Thankfully for the Panthers, Goodfellow kept his nerve to coolly dispatch the penalty, sending the Brighton support in the packed out arena mad.
As the game entered extra time, Gloucestershire suddenly emerged short of ideas with Brighton looking the fitter and more determined of the two sides.
And it was Smith, who couldn’t hide his emotions at the end, who set Brighton on their way as he smashed home early in the first-half of the 10 added minutes. The ever-impressive Mehmet, who missed a gilt-edged chance with just 35 seconds remaining in normal time, then confirmed Brighton as champions as he scored two well-taken similar goals to end this unbelievably frenetic final.
Never has the phrase ‘It ain’t over till the fat lady sings’ ever been more true. Brighton showed incredible team spirit and character to come back from a losing position with only 13 seconds left. You couldn’t have written the script on this incredibly pulsating final, which simply had everything. Full Time Score (AET): Brighton 2nds 6 – 3 Gloucestershire 2nds