June 8, 2023

By Richard Beale….

It had to end sometime Esentepe’s magnificent 17-match unbeaten run but why in the most important game of the season?


Saturday, May 13, 2023: AKSA League 1 “playoff match 1”: Lefkoşa Şht Hüseyin Ruso Stadium.

Weather: Warm and sunny.

Esentepe went into the “playoffs” with a 2-point advantage, which they threw away and now lie in second place in the “mini play-off League. This now reads Düzkaya 29 points, Esentepe 28 points, Yalova 27 points, Gençler Birliği 26 points. Esentepe playoff hopes are not over but they have put pressure on themselves, they must win their remaining 2 matches and hope Düzkaya somewhere down the line drop a point. In the other match in the playoff, Yalova – L. Gençler Birliği ended 1-1, Gençler will be Esentepe’s next opponents on Wednesday.

Esentepe turned in a disappointing performance, too many players were off their normal game and tactically the team looked disjointed. Düzkaya after suffering a humiliating 7-0 defeat against Yeniboğaziçi last Monday, picked themselves up after that hammering and overhaul were the better team.

Esentepe supporters came in their 100s, along with their drums and outnumbered Düzkaya fans probably 5 to one.

After winning their last League match against Mormeneşke 6-0 last weekend Coach Davut Kansu understandably kept the same eleven that started that match. With Mormeneşke having nothing to play for, Esentepe could not dominate the match as they did last week.

Missing one of their influential players Emre Mutlu, called up for his National Service, Esentepe could not gain control of the midfield, where normally Emre with his “all action” style is all over the pitch. With Esentepe’s most creative midfield player Salih Karal, playing on the right wing, the rest of the midfield duties were left to Tuğra and Mahmut both really defensive players. This resulted in poor service to the 3 forwards, Semih, Melih, and Ege Can who were not effective with the sparse service they were given. In contrast, Düzkaya midfielders Barış Kaya and particularly Hasan Yanaroğlu were dominant in the midfield area.

In fairness to the Esentepe Coach, he did make changes during the break, bringing on the more creative midfielder İlyas Nıyazı and top goal scorer Deniz Kıbar available after his 4 yellow card suspension. These changes did make a slight improvement, but forward Melih, who has been in top form recently struggled to make an impact. Deniz also struggled to get into the match, given little of the ball he thrives on, he got very frustrated and was fortunate not be red-carded before the match finished.

Youngster Dursun Ali Karal came on in the 58th minute and he made an immediate impact, with his speed, energy, and skills – he certainly should start Esentepe’s next match.

Esentepe defended poorly for Düzkaya’s first two goals and they were caught on the break, with a sucker punch for the winning goal.

Once again Esentepe failed in Lefkoşa, our record is appalling in the Hüseyin Ruso and the Atatürk Stadium, we have failed to win or probably even drawn a match in 14 seasons of when I have been watching them – it’s a monkey we cannot seem to get off our back.

After this disappointing result, we lost a battle, but not the war, and we have two more battles to fight, as we know anything can happen in football, particularly in the playoffs.

Davut will make sure this defeat is put behind us, and the team will be angry, hurt, and determined that our next opponent Gençler Birliği will pay dearly for this lost on Wednesday.


5 mins: After an Emek free kick was cleared back to him, he hit a low shot that had ex-Esentepe goalkeeper Ali Karal diving to his left to save.

7 mins: Esentepe took the lead following an Emek corner from the left which was headed into the net by young defender DEVRAN GÜNEŞ to send the Esentepe supporters onto their feet with this early lead. 1-0

For the first 20 minutes, Esentepe were on top carrying on with the form that took them on their 17-match unbeaten run.

However, Düzkaya came back into the game as the half wore on.

29 mins: Poor defending on Esentepe’s left side resulted in a cross that was converted by Düzkaya’s top goal scorer BERKANT ISTANBUL beating Osman on his left-hand side. 1-1

33 mins; A slick Düzkaya move again on the left flank saw Ahmet Çağer and Salih exchange passes resulting in a low cross which Berkant looked certain to score from until a last-gasp saving tackle from Emek prevented it.

Düzkaya finished the half on top with Esentepe looking laboured and lacking ideals.


Düzkaya’s midfielders Barış and Hasan continued to look full of running, with Esentepe struggling to get going.

1-2 to Düzkaya.

50 mins: Another piece of poor defending saw Düzkaya take the lead, when they failed to clear an Ahmet Çağer corner and HASAN YANAROĞLU forced the ball home at the far post. 1-2

53 mins: A last-gasp tackle this time from Mustafa, prevented another quick break from Düzkaya.

Esentepe were looking tired, laboured, and lacking energy.

57 mins: At last, Esentepe called goalkeeper Ali into action, where he dealt with a ferocious first-time volley from Emek just outside the box.

61 mins: Esentepe equalised and again it was DEVRAN GÜNEŞ getting the goal his second of the match. From a Salih Corner from the right, Esentepe defender Okan attacked the ball strongly, taking defenders with him, leaving Devran to get in a low header, which bounced squeezing into the net at the left post. 2-2

DEVRAN hidden by a group of players equalises for Esentepe. 2-2.

This goal lifted Esentepe, players finding energy from somewhere Tuğra with his head bandaged was everywhere and substitute Dursun chasing everything and it looked like Esentepe might snatch a win.

83 mins: Esentepe’s hearts were broken when they got caught by a fast raiding Düzkaya break. Salih put in a very poor cross in from the right where it was cleared upfield, to Barış and Ümit breaking fast a cross came in from the right and there rosed BERKANT ISTANBUL to head past Osman. 2-3.

The rest of the match and 8 minutes of injury time were run down by Düzkaya with no threat to their goal.

ESENTEPE TEAM: Osman (gk) : Mustafa, Devran, Okan, Emek (c) ; Mahmut Izoğlu (DURSUN ALI KARAL 58), Tuğra (Sahin 84) : Salih : Semih (Deniz 46), Melih, Ege Can (İlyas 46).

Esentepe replacements not used: Ulaş (gk), Hüseyin, Nersin, Gökdeniz, Mehmet Ada, Mahmut Şen.

DÜZKAYA TEAM: Ali (gk) ; Serkan (c), Batuhan, Afün, Ahmet, Salih, (Murat 65), Barış, Hüseyin (Mehmet 65), Umit (Ayberk 82), Berkant, HASAN YANAROĞLU.

Yellow cards: Ümit, Berkant (Düzkaya) : Deniz (Esentepe)

Referee Ali Özer – a very good match, some sensible decisions.

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