By Richard Beale……
Yes it was only a “friendly” match but Esentepe produced a top class hardworking performance against the current Super League Champions and League leaders Mağusa Türk Güçü. (MTG)
Result: ESENTEPE KKSK 1 MAĞUSA TÜRK GÜÇÜ 1
Friendly Match: Wednesday January 15- Esentepe Erdal Barut Stadium.
A shame that this hastily arranged friendly match against the “biggest” football club in the TRNC, Mağusa Türk Güçü (MTG), didn’t attract a far larger crowd than around the 30 who were present at the Stadium. It’s not every week that you get the chance to see some of the TRNC finest footballers, but understandably with this being a midweek game, played in the afternoon, people are at work, hence the disappointing crowd.
Those who did watch would have been impressed with a very hard working team performance from Esentepe. MTG fielded a strong team, including their star African players Ebimobowei Peter and Dinopeter, along with many other “household” names of TRNC football.
Make no mistake about it, this might have been only a friendly match but MTG wanted to win it, the frustrations of any misplaced pass or a shot off target was shown on the faces of their players.
Esentepe v Super League Champions and League leaders Mağusa Türk Güçü (Yellow strip)
Esentepe poor playing surface might not have helped the MTG cause, with a high bounce and even though it hasn’t rained for a week or so players lost their footing on the tacky surface.
I feared for Esentepe when MTG took the lead in the 2nd minute with their first attack. MTG Captain Yasın Kurt took a free kick on the right, which was met with a low glancing header by one of their other African players AMANI MERVE. 0-1
MTG were in control in the opening 15 minutes, playing some nice passes as they dominated possession.
Esentepe shocked them in the 17th minute, when they scored an equaliser through their recent signing from Turkey ALI KAFADAR. The experienced striker made a goal out of nothing, receiving a clearance upfield he shrugged aside his markers, turned and beat the advancing MTG Goalkeeper Ufuk to finish expertly. 1-1
Esentepe should have taken the lead in the 19th minute, when young Şükrü broke into the box on the right, the teenager went on to beat Ufuk only to see his shot hit the MTG left hand post before rebounding to safety. Maybe a better option was a pass to the unmarked Ali but it didn’t happen, maybe a little bit of inexperience from the youngster.
MTG stormed back when their overlapping full back Gürlü got in a fierce shot, that the Esentepe goalkeeper Onur dived to his right to push it behind for a corner.
A couple of minutes later Dinopeter cut inside from the right to send a shot into the side netting.
The match was being played very competitively, some strong challenges from both sides, though the referee was quite content to keep the play in motion. HALF TIME : 1-1
The second half again saw the League leaders with plenty of the ball and territory, but Esentepe were getting men behind the ball and defending in numbers. Esentepe may lack the flair of their illustrious opponents, but they made up for that with damned hard work to nullify the opposition.
MTG continued to press, Unal sent a good header from a Dinopeter free kick just wide in the 89th minute, Esentepe’s Nersin in injury time got his head to a dangerous cross to thwart a late winner to the visitors.
The result for Esentepe will mean more to them, as it will to MTG, this Esentepe performance must now become a “benchmark” to future matches. Many individuals had fine performances, for me UGURCAN BAŞAYAK playing in his preferred wide left side of midfield was outstanding, “Duracell”, his nickname, revelled in the space and was up in attack one minute and defending ferociously the next. FULL TIME SCORE : 1-1