By Richard Beale….
It’s been over a year since Esentepe’s last competitive home match and 7 months since the last “friendly” game but on Saturday evening, 31st July, football finally “came home again”.
Result: ESENTEPE KKSK 2 İNCİRLİ SK 2 (friendly match)
Saturday 31 July: Esentepe Erdal Barut Stadium.
What a great feeling to be out in the fresh air (even though it was boiling hot) and to set foot again on the “hallowed” turf of the Esentepe football stadium. The 70 odd spectators who made the effort to come along were rewarded with a thoroughly entertaining game played in high temperatures.
The match officials and Coaches wisely agreed before the match started to play 40 minutes each half and allow 2 water breaks in each half.
Most of the spectators managed to seek some form of shade from the blistering sun except for probably the only two Englishmen in the Stadium who sat in full sun in the main stand!
Esentepe opponents İncirli compete in the same League as their hosts after being promoted from the BTM League whenever the last time was that we had competitive football. In charge of İncirli was an old friend Mehmet Emin Zaim a young Coach who I always rated. He had done wonders at Mesarya a few years ago getting them promoted before trying his luck with Dumlupınar where it never quite worked out for him. He has been out of football for far too long and it was great to meet up with him again. His “mentor” is the current Esentepe Coach Kılıç Ali Kahramam, both have the same enthusiasm for the game and their teams are well organised always with good team spirit.
It was a very changed, young and inexperienced side that started the match, many making their first appearance at senior level, including the local bus driver Yusuf at right back !
The match started quite openly with both sides going close in the opening minutes, a poor clearance from Esentepe goalkeeper Osman went straight to Bekir and he was relieved to see the forward’s shot just clear the bar. Esentepe replied with a good effort from Şükrü whose cross shot went just wide of the İncirli right hand post.
It might have been only a friendly match but there were some robust challenges coming in especially from Esentepe.
As the half wore on İncirli came into the ascendency and kept Esentepe in their own half for long periods, despite forcing a number of corners Osman’s goal remained unthreatened.
HALF TIME 0-0.
As expected both sides made a number of changes during the interval and it was Esentepe who started the half more brightly. In the first half they tried to pass the ball around and build from the back but inevitably the moves broke down with a poor pass. Now there was a more direct approach to their play as they sought to capitalise on the speeds of Hüseyin, Şükrü and Emrah using the long ball.
Against the run of play İncirli scored in the 46th minute when No 23 outstripped Mustafa Soytürk on the left before sending over a low cross that was put in by ALTAY RÜZGAR. 0-1
They increased their lead in the 67th minute with a goal from their prolific goalscorer HİKMET ÇELİKER. 0-2
2-0 down many teams would have folded but not this Esentepe team, they are made of sterner stuff. They nearly pulled a goal back in the 70th minute following an İncirli corner which was dealt with by Emrah he looked up and spotted Hüseyin making a run into the İncirli half and played the perfect ball to him. Normally on a one on one situation 9 out of 10 times Hüseyin would score but at the last minute he lost control of the ball giving goalkeeper Çayan the time to pounce on the ball.
Esentepe didn’t have to wait long to pull a goal back and a fine goal it was too. Burak did well on the right to cross the ball to Salih who teed the ball up for full back EMEK KIRILMAZ to smash the ball home with an unstoppable shot 1-2
Esentepe now had the “bit between their teeth” with Burak linking up well with the overlapping Emek, Esentepe poured forward in search of the equaliser.
This came in the 75th minute when Hüseyin was upended just inside the box, up-stepped EMEK KIRILMAZ to score his second goal sending goalkeeper Çayan the wrong way. 2-2
İncirli for most of the match were the better team but full marks to Esentepe they never threw in the towel and came back well in the final 10 minutes. I thought EMRE MUTLU was Esentepe’s best player, working tirelessly in midfield, young Salih Karal also showed some neat touches and the evergreen Burak (Pancho) coming on as a replacement played a super ‘cameo” roll.
FULL TIME SCORE : 2-2.
ESENTEPE TEAM (first half)
Osman (GK); Yusuf, Gürkan Demir, Nersin, Asil ; Hüseyin Ermış : Emre, Hürkan, Salih : Şükrü, Ege.
ESENTEPE TEAM (second half) Tuğrul (GK) : Mustafa Soytürk, Şenol, Doğukan, Emek: Emre: Semih, Ege ( Salih 68) : Şükrü (Burak 54), Hüseyin Deynekli, Emrah.