FLT Futsal Challenge Cup Blackpool Futsal scholars travelled to Derby Arena to take part in the FLT Futsal Challenge Cup. They were drawn in Group 3 along with FLT clubs Reading, Bradford, Burton Albion and neighbours Fleetwood Town. First place in the group would qualifier to the next round and best runner up from the third groups would also advance to the next stage. In their first game they took on Burton Albion and got themselves off to a flying start. The Seasiders went 4-0 up with goals from Nick Horsley (2), Oliver Betts (1) and Dylan Nagliati (1). Burton then hit back with three goals to bring the game back to 4-3 making it a very nervy last few minutes. Blackpool were then gifted a goal with a bizarre incident, which saw a Burton Albion player smash the ball into his own net. Blackpool then added another to seal the game in the dying seconds with good work from Dylan Nagliati, which saw another own goal go Pool’s way. Final score 6-4 in Blackpool’s opening fixture. In Pool’s second game they took on last year’s national champions Reading knowing they were in for a tough game. Reading had the majority of possession, but the game remained very even with both teams having chances at either end. Blackpool took the lead when Nick Horsley finished from distance, but Reading soon equalised to put the Royals on level terms. Luke Harris then came off the bench to quickly make an impact to put the Seasiders 2-1 up. The Royals weren’t up for any upsets as they hit back again from a good counter attack. Reading then sealed the game in the last minute as Pool began to tire. A set piece saw Pool switch off for a tap in at the back post, to finish the game 3-2 to Reading. Pool went into their third match knowing they had to beat Bradford to have any chance of qualifying to the next stage after the Bantams had won their opening two fixtures against Fleetwood and Burton. Both teams were evenly matched but neither team could find an end product in the attacking half in the opening period. Then a key incident of the game occurred when Blackpool dispossessed the Bantams in their own half and broke quickly through Lewis Walmsley. He, combined with Luke Harris, took a shot over the keeper. A clear to strike the Bantams defender on the line, saving a goal scoring opportunity. After lengthy appeals from Pool the 2008 World Cup FIFA referee had given a corner, as he’d deemed the handball to be unintentional. The Seasiders felt hard done by as they were expecting a penalty and straight red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity. The game was played at high tempo with both teams receiving five foul calls from the referee. One more foul from each team would see a penalty awarded to the opposition. Bradford then put themselves in front as Pool had been caught 2v1 at the back. The Bantam players worked the ball well to beat the impressive Geoff Wylie in goal. Pool had a couple of minutes to get themselves back into the game, but chances went begging as Oliver Betts and Nick Horsley couldn’t find the net for the Seasiders. Final score 1-0 to Bradford, with the Seasiders feeling very frustrated with decisions that didn’t go their way. Blackpool went into their last game with Fleetwood Town knowing they had missed out on qualification to the next round. They did however have local pride at stake as they took on rivals Fleetwood, who were improving throughout the day. Blackpool quickly went into the lead when Luke Harris netted a brace in the first few minutes of the game. Fleetwood hit back with a close range finish after good combination play to take the game to 2-1. Pool stepped up a gear to put the game out of Fleetwood’s reach. They added further goals through Dylan Nagliati (1), Oliver Betts (1), Adam Cardwell (1), Luke Davidson (1), and Luke Harris. The first year scholar completed his first hat-trick for the Seasiders, final score 7-1 to Blackpool. Blackpool finished third place in Group three which saw Reading progress as group winners and see Bradford City qualify as best runners up in all three groups throughout the day. Blackpool’s Lead Futsal coach Alex Taylor said “I feel for the lads today as they have worked hard and deserved to go through to the next stage. They represented Blackpool FC Community trust very well both on and off the court” If you would be interested in playing Futsal whilst studying a BTEC Level 2/3 in Football Studies with Blackpool FC Community Trust and are aged 16-18 years old, come to our next open night at Bloomfield Rd stadium on Wednesday 3rd February at 6pm. For more information phone Blackpool FC Community Trust on 01253 348691.