In an important clash between the 2nd and 3rd positioned teams in the TML Division 2 title race BEFC took on GUTS SC without half of its usual defence. Against a team primarily known statswise for scoring a lot of goals it was going to be interesting. Lining up with an experimental 3-4-2-1 formation, harking back to the heady days of their Division 1 debut, BEFC hoped it also wouldn't be nostaligic of the utter thrashings they were on the end of when playing it. However with a strong back 3 and the benefit of hindsight BEFC got down to business and for the opening 10 minutes it seemed to work well with BEFC pinning GUTS in their own half and using the extra numbers to high press and win back the balls. But gradually as GUTS escaped punishment under the pressure, they found the spaces they needed to launch the kind of counter attacks expected when employing a high line and only 3 defenders.
This produced some opening scares with their pacey forwards bursting through on goal with 30 yard foot races and the BEFC defence just doing enough to stop them getting clear angles to shoot. The crossbar was BEFC's friend as well as some great stops from goalkeeper Sasada and a clearance off the line. Surviving three in a row, BEFC did react and with the early press being bypassed they dropped deeper to reduced the danger. With some favorable decisions going GUTS way for conveniently falling over when it suited them, they tried their luck from set pieces and while under pressure it was certainly less threatening than almost one vs ones with the keeper. BEFC had their own chances the other end but the final 3rd was just missing the vital ball, although again GUTS benefited greatly from their reknowned lineman offside decisions.
At halftime time BEFC switched to a familiar 4-2-3-1 which intially led them to start well again for the opening 15 minutes. But with injuries to Alonso and Pounder, BEFC needed to shuffle their players about, and finally again got caught out on a counter attack where their high-line got shredded by a right sided forward who bypassed both fullback and centerback forcing a desperate covering foot race from Palmer who managed to barely hold the striker up in the area. Sasada made a good stop against the closed down angle and the rebounded popped out to covering BEFC defenders. However rather controversially the following up GUTS striker went straight through the back of Humphries to bundle the ball into the net from the penalty spot. The case in point being BEFC were consisently being penalised for much less, and much less obvious fouls.
This gave GUTS more confidence to attack and despite some good play BEFC were suffering from a disjointed midfield in which the DMs mifield 3 were often too far away from each other, creating turnovers and instant counters against the back four. BEFC needed a goal but not at the expense of conceeding more, and so the timing to change formation was important in that the back-line knew when it was going to happen and perform it effectively. With 10 minutes remaining as Witvliet went off for Katase through injury, BEFC switched back to their starting formation, and much like the first half it had the effect of pinning GUTS in their one half and allowing BEFC to assert deeper pressure. With a break into the box, a cross, chip and then deflection bounced across the face of the goal for Sakk to chase and BEFC players lined up in the box. A GUTS defender came across and inexplicably shoulder barged Sakk, with no attempt to play the ball and a penalty was awarded. There was some justice in this, because GUTS had been employing this type of play the entire match, where they threw their weight into larger BEFC players with no attempt to get the ball and not being penalised. Katase stepped up and drove the ball into the left corner, the keeper getting a touch but not enough to keep the powered strike out.
A tough match ended 1 - 1, and in the circumstances BEFC would be happy with the result. It was a disjointed performance against a side with quick strikers and very good at threading the through balls behind the defensive line. Their antics which are well known continued to go in their favour and is simply something a team has to deal with until they get penalised more strongly for gaming the play.
At the end of the match, MVP nominations were well in favour of goalkeeper Yu Sasada who had plenty of action, and make a number of vital stops to keep BEFC in the game. Someone also nominated the goalpost and the crossbar! However for a sterling goal keeping display against a very tricky opponent the Adecco BEFC Most Valuable Player versus GUTS SC is Yu Sasada.