BEFC made their return to division 1 with a well earned comeback from three goals down to draw with last season's D1 runners up Kanto Celts. It was definitely a hot one, with 20 minute water breaks being introduced as the sun beat down on the pitch. Despite the heat or maybe helped by it, it was a dramatic and intense match!
BEFC started strongly, and the sides were looking even. Celts showing a strong and organised defence, and BEFC sweeping up possession and trying to find holes in it. All the time Celts sought to threaten with quick counters to their pacey strikers and drew first blood. However BEFC still felt they were in this, as despite conceeding it felt like goals would come. Unfortunately as BEFC probed Celts managed to counter with their top scorer (and current D1 top scorer) Yamagishi going down rather easily in the penalty area and winning a penalty BEFC were 0 -2 down (see match report from last time we played Celts for a little on that). This spurred BEFC on and with some changes from the bench goals continued to look like they would come.
At half time BEFC felt Celts were tiring and that if they could get one goal, it'd would open up. Then yet another set back, as once again Yamagishi went down in the box!. As a cross was going out of play, Katase sheparded the ball over the touchline at the edge of the area. Yamagishi ran over to try and steal it back, pushing Katase and trying to shunt his body in front. Katase simply stood his ground, being in possession of the ball and being grabbed and pushed by Yamagishi who took the opportunity to go down again to the floor. From the referee's position he saw a penalty much to the frustration of the BEFC players and sideline and it was now 3 goals.
However maybe the stench of injustice added more fuel to the fight back and swiftly with some more fine play Endo smashed a long range effort passed the Celts keepers. BEFC became relentless in their attacking and a Katase a constant threat down the flanks drove in a wonder goal from the right side into the top corner of the net. It was 3 - 2 and BEFC were back in it. Then disaster stuck, because as BEFC pushed forward for more goals it allowed Yamagishi to get free and have a simple one - on - one in space with the BEFC defence, drilling a low shot into the net.
This didn't stop BEFC, who could see Celts suffer in the heat, and with some swift changes from the bench, BEFC brought on Nagasawa and Bato with instructions to run at the defence. Suddenly more opportunities opened up. Especially with Katase getting free on the right side, and some lovely switched balls and then returned diagonal crosses for BEFC attackers to run onto. This caused a hand-ball in the box for Celts, and under the new rules it meant a penalty. Katase dispatched it and BEFC only needed 1 more to equalise.
As BEFC continued to turn up the heat, Celts responded with some scary counters, where the defence was lacking cover from the offensive push. Thankfully goalkeeper Sasada was having a top-shelf day between the sticks and three times stone-walled a striker in a one on one that they looked destined to score.
The final goal came for BEFC, as another dangerous cross was cut out backward by the Celts defender catching their own keeper out of position. Bato took no chances and was first to the ball, leaping the defender and finishing the job... 4 - 4.
BEFC tightened up the defence and Celts had some last ditch freekicks, notably won by Yamagishi going to ground but resisted by Embassy. Embassy looked for the win on the counter but finally the whistle was blown and in the intense heat both teams look thankful for the chance to get into the shade and cool down.
A valiant fightback and a great result for BEFC's return to division 1. As the nominations for Adecco MVP came in it was very close between Katase for his goal scoring heroics and tireless running, and Sasada at the other end for three brilliant stops. At the end of the day there can only be one Adecco BEFC MVP and the accolade goes to Yu Sasada for his strong play and notably three amazing shutdowns that kept BEFC in the game!