It was a glorious day for football as BEFC visited TML Division 3 Albion Old Boys in the Footy Japan Cup. With a number of players back from injury and the rigours of fatherhood a strong squad looked to gain some revenge for BEFC Lions who had suffered a defeat early in the season at the hands of Albion. The venue at St.Mary's is a smaller pitch and lends itself to a certain way of playing with less space for open play. BEFC were there to focus on their own play, positioning, speed and movement --- and that they did.
The match started well with BEFC camped in Albion's half, repeating attack after attack which Albion stubbornly resisted despite a lot of chances which if more clinical could have put Albion to the sword in the opening minutes. A test here for BEFC was patience and trust in the system, calming the habit to push too much forward in search of a goal and risk opening up to a cheap counter attack. There were a few sniffs of that happening due to the small pitch allowing goal kicks to find their way to the edge of the other penalty area, but BEFC kept their shape. Also in this match BEFC experimented with inverted wingbacks and after repeated attacks down the left wing from Tsukasa Katase, dropping in crosses for the strikeforce, took matters into his own hands cutting in instead to fire off an Arjen Robben special to break the deadlock and do justice to the experiment.
Going 1 - 0 up it was still more of the same until Alo Sakk limped off with a calf injury giving debutant Takashi Umeki his first start. BEFC stuck with the gameplan, and despite Albion stubbornly refusing to concede the passing, movement and position up to the end of the half was fluid and exactly what BEFC were looking to develop and hope to repeat in Division 1.
The second half opened up the scoring with Umeki's energy and dangerous movement putting him in on goal to effectively open the game up. Now 0 - 2 down Albion threw more caution to the wind and pushed their attack more, but then so did BEFC, slipping a little into bad habits as they sought more goals. Despite this slightly disrupting the defence, BEFC began to show a range of different attacking angles, from different players allowing Maki to drill one in from the edge of the box after a byline cross, and Oshima to drop a perfectly weighted cross for Palmer to nod in at back post from a counter break. All in all a good performance and cohesive game for a team unable yet to play a regular squad yet this season.
When it came to MVP nominations everyone admitted it was a hard choice. Simply because everyone played well, put in a strong shift, but no one strongly stood out in relation to their normal play. However it was agreed that one player continued to put in a huge shift up and down the wings in a very demanding role, and consistently a threat including the opening goal. Tsukasa Katase has been excelling in the wingback position and it wasn't a big surprise that most of the first half attacks continually went down the left wing and into the box via Katase. And with the front-line thwarted by Albion's defence, he took matters into his own hands to rather than cross, cut inside and launch the rocket that open the scoring --- and exactly what was need at that time.
Tsukasa Katase is the Adecco Man of the Match versus Albion Old Boys.