This weekend was a crucial league clash between against long time rivals Sala FC. Sala being on top of Division 2 and BEFC needing a serious win to get themselves back into the extremely tight title race. Matches against Sala are always fiesty, intensive affairs with healthy dose of controversy and this one was no different.
Both teams boasting full strength squads, BEFC got over their slow start mentality, but simply being aware of it and soaked up some early Sala pressure and build up play before their own game started to ramp up and impose itself on them, with Bato causing damage from the left wing and launching some narrowly close rockets as he cut inside. Sala's early tactic was to release one of their top scorers, Nakatani brother Shusuke utilising his speed to escape down the left side and causing BEFC some early problems. However the flow of the match slowly turned with BEFC getting his threat under control with good covering and tight marking leaving Sala to look for a different avenue to attack. However BEFC's left back Simon made it pretty clear that no one was coming down his side of the pitch and through the hard work of the midfield press BEFC started getting matters under control.
It wasn't long before the strong challenges began with Bato receiving some particular attention, since Sala's defence struggling with his pace and trickey resorted to putting him on the floor instead. This allowed Simon to step up and launch a beautiful cross into the Sala box for Witvliet to rise high challenging the keeper and put the ball into the back of the net. With first blood to BEFC, Sala looked deflated and resorted to long balls while BEFC looked to increase the deficit and nearly did a few time were it not for close offside calls, a great one vs one goal keeping stop, but an equally very lucky goalie error leaving an open goal with Sakk's lob just too much on it.
Matters turned sour in the second half, with a brief spell of Sala possession a whipped in cross from the left was brought down and caught by BEFC's keeper Sasada with two follow ups from Sala's strikers. The second late challenge into his body causing it to bobble and the first striker kicking it out from his hands and into the goal from the floor. The referee blew for a goal much to the indignation of the entire BEFC team. This particular goal has plagued BEFC over the seasons, with the club repeatedly highlighting the FIFA rules regarding goalkeepers and possession but always in retrospect of a match!
Turning the injustice into motivation BEFC upped their intensity followed by a rotations from the bench to keep the pressure up on Sala. It wasn't long before picking the ball up on the left middle channel, Marenco turned in space to play an absolutely sublime through ball into the feet of Takahashi who managed to spin like a balerina and turn the ball into the net. 2 - 1 BEFC, justice back on track.
Sala began to find their own purchase on the match, especially with their trademark Sala comebacks and some BEFC over attacking caused their left side to be without cover when an attack broke down. No one dropping in to cover Uwatsu's run forward as he linked with Bato left Blanafort outnumbered and caught in a foot race with FC International's pacey Jaramillo (he must be on loan) who managed a cut back to the far post and Sala levelled.
BEFC rallied again with some intense play as well as some controversy with Sala's unrepentent Neil Murphy extremely lucky not to see a red card for a violent off the ball challenge much to the shock of pretty much everyone really. Controversy box checked, the match carried on and in a spirited assault on Sala's goal mouth, Sakk poached in from close distance and forced the ball into the back of the net.
The final stages of the match played out largely with midfield battles and Sala searching for that equaliser they have been known to 'always' get in previos match ups. A final corner was whipped in which BEFC headed clear, and BEFC took home the 3 points putting them firmly in third, equal points with Sala. Elsewhere in the league, Real Celts win over GUTS SC started to show glimpses of the top three pulling away from the pack and where the battle for Division 2 champions will be fought.
When it came to MVP the nominations were widely spread and a one point a 4 way tie. This shows a great team effort and appreciation across the squad for all the different work their teammates do. However at the end of the votes it went to a player who lived up to the famed intensity of Sala and BEFC matches, and that player was Jorge Marenco whose huge effort in the first half down the right side in both defence and attack was fully noticeable. Then in the second half, his drifting inside and perfect through ball to Takahashi to take back the lead was perhaps the highlight of the match. Not only did you see him up top making things happen but almost as soon as he popped up linking the attack, he was back covering and tracking down Sala's plans to spring their speedy wingers.
For the intensity and most excellent vision and game changing pass the Adecco Most Valuable Player versus Sala FC is Jorge Marenco.