June 3, 2023

By Richard Beale….

The clash of 4th place Esentepe and 5th place L. Gençler Birliği (LGB) and it being a local “derby” match predictably ended in a draw, a result that both teams will be happy with.

Results: ESENTEPE KKSK 2 PERA L. GENÇLER BŞRLİĞİ SK 2

Saturday March 25, 2023: AKSA League 1 : Esentepe Erdal Barut Stadium.

Weather: sunny and mild.

There was a very good size crowd, being a local derby match also quite a few ex-pats enjoying the spring weather.

Esentepe in the opening period settled well putting together some lovely moves in the 14th minute a flowing move involving all the forwards Melih, Ege and Semih resulted in the ball being switched to the right wing where the overlapping Mustafa Soytürk cut inside the box to shoot into the side netting.

Esentepe came close again minutes later when from a corner from the right the ball was hooked off the line by Emir to Esentepe Melih at the far post but he directed his header wide.

Esentepe’s early dominance paid off when they took the lead in the 25th minute, again with a fine move, Salih won the ball in midfield passed to Semih, then onto Melih who set up the ball beautifully to TUĞRA KILIÇ to score with a rasping drive, a first-ever senior goal for this defensive midfield player. 1-0.

Esentepe must have been still in shock at the fact that Tuğra scored a goal! As they did not switch on again as LGB equalised within the minute. An Emir free kick was won at the left far post by not a tall player Barın who nodded across the goal for SİNAN ÇINAR to prod home – poor Esentepe defending at a set piece. 1-1

Then another piece of slack defending allowed a back header from Sinan to hit the top of the Esentepe crossbar.

This was a poor passage of play for Esentepe, the play was scrappy and Esentepe was having trouble in defending against the LGB fast attacking players Abulalziz, Sinan, and Barın.

It came as no surprise when LGB took the lead in the 36th minute when BARIN BOZAK on the left took a shot just inside the box that took a deflection off Esentepe defender Devran to wrong-foot goalkeeper Osman.

HALF-TIME SCORE: 1-2

The first 10 minutes of the second half continued as before with LGB in control with their fast forwards keeping Esentepe’s defence on their toes.

LGB midfield player Mehmet Ali Aylanç a lovely skillful, balanced player was in his pomp in midfield directing operations.

Esentepe midfield trio of Salih, Tuğra, and Emre were looking tired, jaded bereft of ideals as what service the forwards got ran into blind alleyways.

Coach Davut made an early substitution taking off teenager Salih in the 56th minute and bringing on the more experienced İlyas.

The match continued to be scrappy with Esentepe players looking for some inspiration from somewhere, this came from replacement İlyas who was soon involved in the thick of things finding space down the left flank. With Mustafa Soytürk at right back continuing to offer himself down the right flank, suddenly Esentepe had width to give their forwards Semih and Melih some service.

The equaliser came in the 74th after clever play by Melih taking his marker with him from an Emek free kick led to Semih being upended in the box by Emir. The dependable “my left foot” EMEK KIRILMAZ duly dispatched away the penalty. 2-2

It was now LGB who now looking shaken and rattled as Esentepe in the final closing moments of the match saw an opportunity to snatch all 3 points.

In the 86th minute a Mustafa cross from the right was controlled by Melih, who set up İlyas to hit a fierce drive that rattled the LGB crossbar.

In injury time Melih looked certain to score until a tremendous block by LGB defender İsmet, thwarted the Esentepe striker. At the full-time whistle players from both sides slumped to the floor in exhaustion 3 matches in 7 days for players at this level was hard going. The match was played in great spirit between the two teams. And was excellently controlled by referee Mehmet Sezener.

FULL-TIME SCORE: 2-2

SUMMING UP: Esentepe now are unbeaten in 10 matches, and their run continues. This week for all teams 3 matches in 7 have been difficult Esentepe have taken 7 out of 9 points against good opponents, and they can be very satisfied with this. They are quite nicely placed in the 4th spot, in a “play-off “ place, an incredible achievement for such a small squad.

It showed today, the players were tired manager Davut had limited options on the replacement bench, indeed 2 of those substitutes were carrying injuries they were there to make the numbers up. This week the players will recharge their batteries, another tough match next Saturday away in Güzelyurt to Binatlı, who were relegated from the Super League last season, and are struggling this season, though, in their last match, they beat league leaders Karşıyaka away 2-1 certainly no mean feat.

ESENTEPE MAN OF THE MATCH —-MELİH NISANÇI – though the big forward did not score – he helped set the goal up – worked hard, some clever flicks, often marked by two defenders.

ESENTEPE TEAM ; Osman (gk) : Mustafa, Devran, Okan, Emek © ; Tuğra, Emre, Salih (İlyas 56) : Semih, Ege Can (Hüseyin 75) : MELIH.

Replacements not used : Ulaş (gk), Mahmut Izoğlu, Mahmut Şen, Nersin, Deniz, Şenol.

GENÇLER BİRLİĞİ TEAM: Ali (gk) ; Emir, Ismet, Mahmut, Ertan, ©, Barın, Abdulaziz, Sinan (Sertan 77), Kadir. Olgun, Mehmetali (Yekta 84)

YELLOW CARDS —-Osman, Emre, Mustafa. Hüseyin (Esentepe). Olgun, Barın (LGB)

Referee : Mehmet Sezener -excellent.

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