By Richard Beale ….
Esentepe overcame LÇ Gençler Birliği in their second Play Off match to set up a grand finale with favourites Girne Halk Evi on Thursday, where the winners will be promoted back into the Super League.
Result: ESENTEPE KKSK 3 L. GENÇLER BİRLİĞİ SK 2
Sunday July 26: K-PET League 1 Play Off: Lefkoşa Şht Hüseyin Ruso Stadium.
Thursday evening will see the end of this roller coaster of a season where Esentepe and Girne Halk Evi, who were both relegated from the Super League last season, will battle it out to see who will make a swift return to the elite division.
A game of 4 penalties but in no way was this a “dirty match”, in fact, it was played in good and sporting spirit between the two teams. A hot evening but thankfully with a welcoming cooling breeze played in the spacious Hüseyin Ruso Stadium where the great majority of the supporters were from Esentepe.
A 3-2 scoreline suggests a close match, Esentepe had more of the chances and territory but were unable to totally dominate the match as they have done in previous games. LGB were undoubtedly missing their 18 goal top goalscorer Bülent Çakmak who picked up 4 yellow cards and was suspended for this match. Esentepe had their moments and deserved to win but found LGB a resilient team, nevertheless they won in the end another scalp for this young, adventurous and exciting team.
Match action with Esentepe in black
Esentepe started brightly with Kaan going close after 3 minutes with a shot that went just wide after being set up by Şükrü.
Esentepe took the lead in the 10th minute following good work from 16 year old Hüseyin Deynekli who sped down the left, before pulling the ball back to YAKUP ŞEN to crash the ball in from the edge of the box. 1-0
LGB should have equalised immediately when a through ball let in Ahmet Kara but he finished with a weak shot that was blocked by the advancing Esentepe goalkeeper Onur.
Following a Yakup corner from the right, there was an almighty scramble in the LGB penalty area with Hüseyin and Eray having shots blocked ending in a Şükrü shot that goalkeeper Hamit palmed over the bar.
Against the run of play LGB equalised in the 20th minute when Şahın needlessly handled in the box, being booked for his troubles and ERTAN BULUT scored from the resulting penalty 1-1.
Esentepe immediately resumed the offensive with Şükrü shooting just wide, the half ended with Esentepe in the ascendancy. HALF TIME SCORE : 1-1
Esentepe started the second half again brightly in the 48th minute following a Yakup corner Emre Mutlu sent in a powerful header that struck the inside of the LGB right hand post, part of the ball going over the line before it was hacked clear.
Esentepe didn’t have to wait long before regaining the lead in the 55th minute when Berhan Celme upended Şükrü as he made his way into the box. ERAY ERGIN sent Hamit the wrong way with his penalty. 2-1
A tale of two penalties ERAY ERGİN two successful penalties
Again against the run of play LGB equalised in the 68th minute, again it was from the penalty spot, again it was Şahın involved with what Referee Fehmi deemed a miss-timed tackle on Sertan.. ERTAN BULUT made no mistake again with the penalty. 2-2
With Girne Halk Evi leading Yalova in the other play off match a draw would be no good for either Esentepe or LGB which would send GHE through to the Super League, so both teams threw caution to the wind.
A fourth penalty of the match which would prove the winner came in the 74th minute when Kaan was pushed off the ball inside the box by Seyhan and again ERAY ERGIN put away the penalty. 3-2
LGB seemed to have accepted the score as they made little impression on the Esentepe defence in the final 20 minutes of the match, which ended in handshakes all around. FULL TIME SCORE : 3-2
SUMMING UP : Another Esentepe win, this young Esentepe team are on a roll, momentum is with them. Girne Halk Evi are a fine team better equipped both in forms of playing staff and financially to cope with the demands of the Super League, but if they want that place they know that they will have some battle on their hands to overcome this exciting Esentepe team.