Over the weekend of November 3rd and 4th, both the Men and Women’s Futsal 1st teams took part in their opening series of BUCS fixtures at West Lothian College in Livingston. Under the watchful eye of FA qualified coach Nigel Shields, both teams made impressive starts to their BUCS campaigns.
On Saturday, the Women’s 1st was seen in action for the very first time and despite their limited squad of just six players, they were able to make a perfect start by beating opponents, Dundee University, 1-0. Their second game pitched them against Stirling 2nds as the classic and intense rivalry resulted in a hard-fought 5-5 draw. Their final game was something of a mismatch against the much more experienced and well-established Stirling 1st’s. While the game resulted in an 8-0 defeat, the immense effort already invested in the previous two fixtures and the limited squad size, made it unfair to expect a more equal competition. All in all, it was a highly successful day for a new team who provided an excellent foundation on which to continue their development.
The following day the Men’s 1st arrived in high spirits hoping to build upon the success of the women’s performances the day before. The team could not have gotten off to a better start tearing apart the Edinburgh 3rds and scoring 9 without reply. Next up, a tough fixture against the highly rated Stirling 1sts. St Andrews’s struck first and, although they possessed a vast majority of chances, were unable to prevent themselves from falling behind by the interval. After a break, the game began similarly with St Andrews on the offensive, but still, Stirling managed to stay ahead by at least a goal. The strength of Stirling’s keeper, who made numerous saves, was impressive as he helped maintained their lead. Yet ultimately, the game ended in a narrow 4-3 defeat.
Following a short and refusing trip to ASDA, the Men’s 1st team were soon back in action against a disciplined Edinburgh 2nd team. This time, the Saints fell behind to an early goal and clawed their way back with aggression. Nevertheless, the Saints managed to recapture their ferocious offensive nature that had characterized their earlier game against Edinburg 3rds. Eventually, the St Andrews Men’s 1st was able to overturn their deficit to a 4-1 advantage with the pick of the goals a volley from within their own half. A huge achievement thanks to the unrelenting will of our great Saints.
The day culminated in the Men’s 1st team’s fourth and final fixture of the day against Strathclyde 1st’s. Once again the Saints fell behind in the early stages, but similar to the match against Edinburgh 2nd’s, managed to turn the tide through several well-worked set-pieces plays. The final score of 9-4 yet again capped off a phenomenal finish from St Andrews captain Phillip Durrant. Special acclaim must also be awarded to Akira Bowler who recorded an outrageous and incredibly impressive 14 goals across the 4 fixtures. With three wins and nine points, the Men’s 1st team currently sits atop the Scottish 1A division (the highest division among Scottish universities), and are closely followed by the Stirling 1st’s and Edinburgh 2nd’s in what promises to be a closely fought race for the top spot before the season ends.
In addition, St Andrews students have the Men’s 2nd’s debut in the Scottish 2A league to look forward to after the Christmas break. In the meantime, the Men’s 1st will return to their weekly action in the Dundee Futsal League hoping to replicate their strong performances from the BUCS competition.