Getting the season back on track BEFC came away with a great performance but somewhat unsatisfying draw, Real Celts should be overjoyed to escape with a single point. BEFC dominated the entire game which Celts spent the most part of defending resolutely in their own half superbly penned in by the midfield and fullbacks. The opening phase of the match BEFC developed their gameplan working in good build up play, including the entire team in the movements to create space. However as BEFC has been want to do, despite sustained pressure and knocking on Celt's door, the final third penetration was unable to make the breakthrough in goals.
After riding the pressure and BEFC not converting it into points, Celts began to show some response, gaining a little more confidence that perhaps they were not under as much assault as it felt like. However this did them little good as their forays into the BEFC half were soon broken and shut down, and it was a build up play that caused BEFC to concede.Goalkeeper Yu Sasada, perhaps taking too much inspiration from Jordan Pickford, took a little too long on the ball and before he could clear the rangy Celts striker closed him down on the edge of the box, blocked his pass and netted in the rebound.
While this was disappointing, BEFC felt they were still well in this game, and when developing new play a team has to be brave and take risks in order to improve. And also to learn how to ensure it doesn't happen again. There was nothing in BEFC's game that was essentially bad. Celts were permanently on the backfoot, they never looked like scoring under their own steam it was just finding the final ball, which surely much come.
After the break BEFC got back to work with more of the same and after some more direct and persistent attacks on goal Katase made the break-through following up on two strikes first saved and then blocked by Celts defence. A great display for the opening attack, supporting runs and persistence to get the equaliser. Soon afterwards the next goal came in a similar fashion as Katase, always a menace, teed up Takahashi with a cut-back to put BEFC in the lead. BEFC continued to bang on the door, and it was almost inconceivable there were not more goals, with numerous chances and at least three shots hitting squarely on the post, and an incredible save from the Celts' keeper from an equally superb Takahashi free kick. It really did feel like today was in some way was blessed for Celts. And that showed in the final moments of the game as BEFC pressed to kill it off.
On a quick counter, the Celts midfielder did a fine job escaping the challenges of BEFC players and put through their ball starved striker just over the halfway circle. However this still was no threat, as they had been in such a position before and closed down. As Palmer moved across to close down the run, the Celt striker smashed the ball first time on the bounce and it sailed about 30 yards goal-bound, miraculously over the diving outstretched palm of Sasada, who was practically on his line, and into the net from the underside of the crossbar. This was a man the Celts players should all be buying countless beers for, unless he is capable of such miracle goals every week.
That was the killing joke, of a match where perhaps Celts had about 4 shots on target, one provided by the goalkeeper, and the other a miracle from 30 yards with the final touch of the game. How BEFC could process that, was simply that while they could have killed the game off, they did nothing poorly, dominated and hit the post three times. What can you do?
So as the final whistle blew there was a strange air of disbelief and the sound of 'it's a funny old game' blowing in the breeze.
For this match BEFC took a large squad, especially with the purpose of trying players in new positions and working on developing a system not reliant on specific players for long term success. One player to make his debut in attacking midfield behind Takahashi was Kunihiko Maki, and it certainly paid off as after the game he was lavished with MVP nominations, for his fine movement, energy to win possession high up the pitch and distribution of the ball in the final third. For BEFC who are looking to refine and hone their attacking final balls this was a great positive performance for Maki, the team and the future development of the BEFC team play.
With is great debut in a newly defined attacking role Kunihiko Maki is the Adecco BEFC Most Valuable Players versus Real Celts.