By Paddy Finnemore
Derby moved back to the top of the National Futsal series table after a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Loughborough Development in the first match of 2022.
The Rams were three points behind Loughborough before a ball was kicked but after the win, Derby is now back on top on goal difference with a game in hand on the teams below.
With the two teams battling at the top of the table it was no surprise that the first half was very tense and nervous. Chances were hard to come by and both defences holding strong.
The deadlock was broken in the fourteenth minute. From a Derby set play, Sam Huntingdon passed to Joe Illston and with a sharp turn inside he unleashed a wicked right-footed strike into the near post which flew past Dijari Marouf in the Loughborough net.
Loughborough came out flying in the second half, on the front foot and putting Derby under a lot of pressure. Making Derby keeper Jez Poulson pull off several crucial saves. Poulson, arguably the player of the match was keeping The Rams in the game after a tough opening ten minutes of the second half.
As Loughborough was getting closer to equalising, Derby picked their moment to strike and double their lead. Illston was involved again, picking the ball up and finding Jordan Riley with a clever lofted pass, Riley on the run was able to volley home with composure to give the away side some breathing space after a lot of defending.
Despite the setback, the home side did not stop fighting. Thiago Santos finally got the goal that Loughborough deserved, picking the ball up in the middle of the court and driving towards Poulson’s goal, with the ball glued to his feet he breezed past the opposing players and calmly placed the ball into the corner. Momentum was heavily on the home side.
In the final 30 seconds of the match, Derby gets their third of the game to seal the crucial three points. Their captain and talisman Pawel Tomczak score what is becoming his trademark goal. The ball gets played over the top, Tomczak controls expertly on his chest and the turn fires the ball into the roof of the net.
This defensively solid performance has started the year on a high and sets a platform for Derby to build on for the rest of the season. Next up in a busy month is Trent Valley this Sunday for a 2 pm kick-off where The Rams will be looking to extend their lead in the battle for promotion.
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