UEA Futsal suffered an agonising loss in the Last 16 of the BUCS Futsal Trophy after a strong second half performance from London South Bank University (LSBU) helped the visitors earn a 7-3 victory.
The Yellows controlled the first half after a slow start to the game and were unfortunate to enter half-time level at 3-3.
However, they could not match an improved showing from South Bank after the break and despite some spirited individual performances UEA ended up leaving the Trophy at the second stage.
The U’s came into the game buoyed by a 9-0 victory against University of Surrey in the previous round and a 5-1 win over Loughborough in the league, while South Bank sat top of the South Eastern 1A division and had scored 34 goals in their previous two games.
LSBU took advantage of a slow start from UEA and took the lead just a minute in, with the Blues’ number 7 sneaking a shot into the bottom corner of the U’s goal following a free-kick.
The Yellows looked to bounce back and forced the visiting goalkeeper into two smart stops, but it was the introduction of Alex Clarke that ignited the home attack.
Sam Murphy drew the game level with a powerful shot into the bottom corner and then combined with a quick one-two with Clarke before the latter coolly put UEA ahead.
The home side then started to dominate and did not let a South Bank leveller affect them, with Sam Ballard bringing UEA into a 3-2 lead with a calm penalty after the hard-working Luke Walker was fouled.
However, once again LSBU hit back against the run of play and despite close attempts from Tom Dayer and the combatant Ed Spurling the sides went into the break level.
The Blues came into the second half with a new tactic, matching UEA’s diamond formation after initially starting with a 2:2 press and the change of system paid dividends as the visitors started to dictate the game.
UEA were thankful to stay level after a superb double save from ‘keeper Tom Wright in goal, but LSBU made their dominance pay and an efficient back post tap-in saw them take the lead with 13 minutes to play.
The reintroduction of Dom Poli saw the home side play more directly, but passes became sloppy and South Bank smelt blood as UEA felt the pressure to equalise.
After Wright had made another fantastic 1-on-1 stop to deny LSBU’s number 2, the latter finished off a rapid counter-attack to put South Bank 5-3 in front.
UEA knew that they needed to score the next goal to have any hope of pulling back the tie, and both Dayer and Clarke had close attempts saved by the inspired visiting goalkeeper.
Ethan Scott came on as a fly goalkeeper with four minutes to go as the Yellows looked to contain South Bank in their half, but despite some ever-increasing pressure on the LSBU goal the visitors scored twice on the break in the last minute and confined UEA to a heart-breaking end to their season.
Notable performances were provided from Ballard and Clarke in their final competitive performances for UEA, while Spurling and Wright can find themselves unfortunate that their commanding performances for the U’s over the past three years were not topped with one final victory.
UEA Futsal can count the tie as an unfortunate end to a strong season and will look to continue the fine work next year and cement themselves as UEA’s most successful club once again.