By Richard Beale …….
To quote from a famous song ” And now the end is near, and so I have to face the final curtain”, there is no encore for Esentepe, no applause just tears and there were plenty of them. Esentepe lost their fingertip hold onto their Super League place and after only one season they return to League 1.
Result: BİNATLI YSK 1 ESENTEPE KKSK 0
Sunday May 26 : K-Pet Super League Play Off Replay Match, Girne 20 Temmuz Mete Adanır Stadium.
So the epic journey that began in September and to quote from that song again “I’ve travelled each and every highway” it has now come to an end, Along that highway there has been joy, despair and finally heartbreak on Sunday night in Girne.
Relegation did not come in this match, it came in the 30 League matches, Esentepe were simply not good enough. Their limited resources and squad could not cope with the demands of the Super League, but My God the team fought, they kept going to the bitter end when finally they exhaled their final breath. In the Sports pages today two Super League teams and a League 1 club have reportedly made bids of £200,000 and £180,000 for two Super League players, this is why Esentepe cannot compete, they could barely raise 200TL let alone £200,000!
At the start of the season Esentepe were the “bookies” favourites to go down automatically, credit to the team they did not roll over, they fought “tooth and nail” to secure a relegation play off place. A season that contained horrendous injuries, three different Technical Directors (Coaches), players walking away from the Club, poor decisions from officials and really not once did they appear to have the rub of the green.
Anyway it sounds like sour grapes, my rant is over let’s get back to the match! Over the two matches there has not been a lot to separate the two teams, the difference being that Binatlı’s “Foreign Legion” players have had a greater influence over matches than Esentepe’s “foreigners”. That is not to blame Junior and Efosa, they worked hard but did not receive the service that Binatlı’s foreign players enjoyed, they only had scraps to feed off.
Esentepe in red on the attack
It was fitting that Binatlı’s MUAMMER TIP scored the only goal over the two matches, he was the most skilful midfielder on show, he provided the ammunition for the front three. Since February Esentepe have been without the services of the injured Tidiane Sane his experience and skills in midfield would have made a hell of a difference to Junior and Efosa. Esentepe’s midfield of Hüseyin, Yakup and Vurkan all are workhorses, but they lack the cutting edge to unlock a tight Binatlı defence. Kaan endured a frustrating night on the left wing, often isolated, getting more and more frustrated and finally his miserable night ended when he went down with an injury and had to be replaced.
Striker Junior was again tightly marked this time by Binatlı’s powerful defender Zihni and his fellow partner Efosa had to drop deep to find the ball resulting in Esentepe attacks being very isolated.
The 20 Temmuz Stadium was packed, everybody from the Village seemed to be there, Esentepe youngsters tried to encourage their team with chants, drums and firecrackers but in the end to no avail.
The first 15 minutes of the match was littered with fouls as both teams competed in a packed midfield. Referee Mr Fehim Dayı who given the circumstances of what was at stake in this match had I thought a reasonable game, only to spoil it by, wrongly in my opinion, sending off Esentepe’s defender Hasan in the 70th minute.
20 mins : The winning goal was scored by MUAMMER TIP who pounced on the ball after Esentepe Goalkeeper Ali could only parry a fierce shot by Vinicius. 1-0
40 mins: Esentepe came close to equalising when from a free kick from around 35 yards Junior’s powerful shot hit the side netting with Binatl’s keeper Salih diving to his left and maybe would not have got there in time.
47 mins: Esentepe Efosa made an opening for himself, using his speed to pass two defenders and make his way into the area but he stumbled at the last minute and ended up poking his shot wide of the goal.
53 mins: Binatlı had two chances to increase their lead within a minute of each other, firstly Paulo Sergio robbed Uğurcan of the ball and squared the ball across the goal to Victory but keeper Ali got down quickly and managed to block the forward’s shot.
54 mins : Sergio tried his luck from outside the box with a dipping volley that hit the underside of Esentepe’s crossbar before bouncing into Ali’s arms. Binatlı appealed that the ball had crossed the line, but with no VAR their appeals fell on deaf ears.
62 mins: Esentepe put together their best move with Efosa cleverly setting up Junior whose fierce shot saw Binatlı’s keeper Salih springing to his left to push the Cameroon’s effort behind for a corner.
74 mins: Esentepe’s uphill task became even harder, when they had big defender Hasan sent off after a clash with Sergio. Both players tussled for the ball, both players tumbled to the floor. Sergio made contact with Hasan with his feet as he fell, the Esentepe defender reacted as well. That is all referee Mr Fehim Dayiı saw, he red carded Hasan, he was conned by the Brazilian who started rolling over in agony. The match was held up for around 5 minutes as Esentepe players contested the decision, sadly a few Esentepe fans got carried away and started throwing plastic water bottles at Sergio.
With only 10 men Esentepe continued to fight, continued to take the game to Binatlı but in doing so left themselves exposed at the back.
80 mins : Esentepe goalkeeper Ali made a brilliant double save pushing away Mehmet Neşe shot after the forward was put clean through.
90 +5 : Full time, the final curtain, Binatlı players and supporters ecstatic, Esentepe players slumped on the floor they had given everything, their journey had ended..
Contrasting fortunes left, Binatli team celebrate and right despair shown by Esentepe Mahmut
SUMMING UP: Congratulations to Binatlı on staying up, they didn’t gloat, some of their players even went over consoling Esentepe players. Over the two matches they were slightly the better team, good luck to them for next season.
For Esentepe the experience of playing Super League football will have lasting benefits on some of their younger players, Onur, Yakup, Şükrü, Hürkan, Mahmut, Mustafa Günlü and Emre Mutlu. They have tasted football at the highest level in the TRNC they should now have a hunger to taste it again.
For now they are hurting, I am hurting but that’s what football does to you and why we love it so much. I go back to that famous song again :
” I’ve loved.
I’ve laughed and cried,
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside
I find it all amusing”
WELL I AM NOT LAUGHING JUST YET
Video highlights courtesy of Graham Procter-Brown