The luck of the FJ Cup draw threw out a repeat of last year's final with BEFC facing off against their 'kind of' rival team Pumas. BEFC spent an entire season going neck and neck with Pumas until they pulled away to win the division and BEFC missed it to a point against Sala. Since then matches against Pumas have always had a more 'Sala' feel to them as pretty intense match ups which until now have been pretty close. However since then Pumas have been going from strength to strength and look very likely to top Division 1 for the first time in their history. Whatever the case BEFC were going to need a strong line up and be on top of their game. However for whatever mojo Pumas have, half the BEFC regular squad goes missing everytime we seem to play them. This fixture was no different and even Captain Ben Palmer was sidelined looking after BEFC's temporary 9 month old manager for the match.
The match started brightly with good contested play between both sides. The antagonism had started early largely down to a Puma's ploy to wind up Sakk, just as they had done previously in matches to Ballet. BEFC took a while to wake up again defensively and it cost them, as Pumas found men free to go 0 - 2 up within the first 20 minutes. This was always going to be difficult with a new centerback pairing in place against Division One's third highest scoring team. When BEFC did respond they responded well, with good forward play, but by having to chase play it kept them vulnerable to Pumas counter attack, who like many Division 1 sides really know how to make the opportunity count.
After a stirring speech at halftime BEFC came out again to fight and didn't let up the entire match. Unfortunately with only one substitute and chasing the game they again were punished on the counter. The final score wasn't really representative of the balance of play, however it did resonate well with some of the defeats BEFC fell to during their baptism of fire into Division One last season. And that is that while in the overall play BEFC competes well, it is in the small moments the opposition are able to punish them which is all it takes. A tough match and a tough scoreline to take wasn't made any better to have questionable refereeing the main subject of the post-game talk ... again for BEFC in important fixtures.
There weren't that many nominations for MVP after the game, but for those that did it was Kotaru Owatsu stood out for his great display both in defence and in attack and tireless work rate. Pumas were also the first team for BEFC Kotaro faced in a 1 - 1 draw that saw him having to play striker! So for BEFC vs Pumas the Adecco BEFC Most Valuable Player is Kotaru Owatsu.