By Richard Beale…………….
A superbly headed goal in the 85th minute by Esentepe Captain Başak Tümkan was enough to send Esentepe into the Super League next season. In contrast Kaya Mehmetçik who also needed to win were relegated back again to the BTM League after only one season in League 1
Result : ESENTEPE KKSK 1 KAYA MEHMETÇİK SK 0
Sunday April 29, 2018 ; K-Pet League 1 : Esentepe Erdal Barut Stadium.
So Esentepe “Puffing Billy” steam train finally made it to the promised land, as the Girne Express (rivals Girne Halk Evi) was derailed on the final bend at Çanakkale. Understandably there were wild celebrations at the end of the match on and off the pitch, A motor cavalcade jammed up the Village centre with horns and lights ablazing. There was dancing in the streets as the celebrations would continue long into the night..
With admission “free“ to the ground a large crowd was present, with a drum and firecrackers being let off to try and create a intimidating atmosphere.
With so much at stake on the outcome of the match, the football did not live up its expectations. It was a tense affair dominated by two strong defences, determined not to give both sets of forwards a sniff of a chance.
What action and chances came in the opening 15 minutes, with Esentepe teenager Yakup firing just over the bar after only 4 minutes.
Mehmetçik leading goalscorer Süleyman also did similar in the 12th minute as the visitors settled the better of the two sides.
In the 15th minute Mehmetcik’s Mustafa cut inside on the left and let fly from just outside the box, only to see Esentepe keeper Kemal dive to his left to push away his strong shot for a corner.
The match was a stop, stop go affair littered with many fouls and injuries.
HALF TIME SCORE : 0-0
The second half continued in the same “cat and mouse affair” with defences dominating the game. Esentepe’s Ahmet though was increasingly getting more into the match and he was linking up well with Başak, who was working hard to get his side on top.
In the 80th minute following a corner Yakup hit a rasping shot from the edge of the box which was deflected just over the bar by his own teammate Şahin.
News from various radios and phones around the ground, came the shock news that Esentepe main promotion rivals Girne Halk Evi were losing 2-1 at Çanakkale. This made the game more and more a tense and tight affair as Esentepe seemed quite happy to come away with a point, gambling that GHE would lose.
But “out of the blue“ in the 85th minute, with really the only decent move of the match resulted in a goal, fittingly scored by Esentepe Captain BAŞAK. Mahmut whipped over a hard head high cross from the right, which was met with a diving bullet header by the skipper, which rocketed into the net past a helpless Cengiz. 1-0
Wild ecstatic celebrations followed and the match was held up for quite along time as Esentepe players and replacements engulfed scorer Basak. Mehmetçik were anxious to start the match again and tempers flared, with pushing and jostling amongst the players. Maybe something untoward was said to Esentepe’s Eser who had already been booked, but the Esentepe striker seemed to “lose his rag” and had to be physically restrained by his teammates. That was enough for referee Timur Ercan Bodı who red carded the angry Eser. This resulted in more protests and the referee even booked the entire Esentepe replacement bench.
Eventually the game restarted with Mehmetçik piling forward and a very nervous finale entailed with around 7 minutes of injury time being played.
Esentepe’s nerve held and when the final whistle blew and they found themselves in the Super League.
FINAL SCORE : 1-0.
SUMMING UP : Congratulations to Esentepe, Davut Kansu, unfashionable team have pulled off one of the shocks of the season.
As the song goes “The road is long with many a winding turn” and yes we have had a few stumbles especially at the end, but we have finally made it to the Holy Grail.
It has been a remarkable achievement by Davut and his team, of really just ordinary footballers. Forced to sell or loan out their “stars” in the summer, I really feared for the team staying in League 1.
But with a combination of hard work and an amazing team spirit they have achieve a miracle.
Let us enjoy the next month or so and will worry about the Super League thereafter.
Esentepe Captain Başak and “in the air” afterwards, Dancing in the street in Esentepe.
Video highlights of the ESENTEPE KKSK v KAYA MEHMETÇİK SK match by Graham Procter-Brown