On a late Sunday night in Saitama, BEFC lined up against Shane FC for a must win match to line up the stella finale with Sala FC for the TML Division 2 Championship. BEFC Captain Ben Palmer had joked that half of winning this match required getting 11 players to the pitch on time, although this almost proved true with injuries, some last minute drop-outs, late arrivals and a no-show. However BEFC arrived intact with a strong squad and at least 2 subs. While Shane sat much lower in the league than BEFC they weren't to be taken lightly with some ex-Sala players now in their ranks and Ryosuke Urai from division 1 champions contenders Pumas in their line up! He seems to belong to a team in every division!
BEFC started strongly putting Shane under immediate pressure and for long period trapping them in their own half. Shane largely responded by attempting long balls to Urai as expected, but having predicted this BEFC's defence covered it soundly. In fact the BEFC defence and midfield snuffed out practically every advance towards their goal allowing the forwards to apply even greater pressure with disruptive pressing. It wasn't long before Shane began to become frustrated and making increasingly physical challenges in attempts to retain the ball. However a goal was always coming and after going close a few times and switch followed by cross and shot fell down in the box to Maki who made no mistake in finishing the job, sending the ball into the net and 1 - 0 to BEFC.
This opened the game up more as Shane were now compelled to be more offensive but BEFC maintained their strong hold on possession and domination, the only danger being Shane trying to turn it into more of a brawl than a football match to get some control back into their game. BEFC showed signs of reacting but then very smartly kept their focus.
The second half was more of the same pressure with BEFC now making more use of the back-line in the build up play freeing up the attack to get away from markers. Where previously they had been trying to carve through a packed defence, by involving the defence Shane had to commit to challenging the ball carriers making it less crowded when BEFC got the ball forwards. This worked out in a similar fashion to the previous goal where BEFC got into the box, got a shot off and with players in the box Owatsu was there first to recover the ball and with a smart turn and weave blasted a spectacular curling shot into the top corner of the goal --- goalie having no chance.
The match continued in this manner with Shane only once threatening when BEFC suffered their habit when in the lead of sending everyone up for a corner in search of more goals and forgetting about the exceedly fast Pumas striker who Shane would lump it to for a counter. Thankfully goalkeeper Sasada and Blancafort saw this coming and did enough to prevent a soft goal. The last few minutes of the match Shane goal a consolation against run of play from a bundled tap in from a corner on the front post. But it was never enough to stop BEFC bagging a well earned win.
With 3 points in the bag BEFC guaranteed promotion to Division 1 and set up the grand finale to decide TMl Division 2 Champions against Sala FC on June 14th!
The performances in this match were all excellent. So much so that Captain Palmer decided it wasn't necessary to bring himself on, since the level of play across the team was that good. However there can only be one Adecco BEFC MVP!
With Kentaro Ogawa having to drop out last minute, BEFC called up Carlos Moreno, who had debuted for BEFC in their cup run. Slotting straight into center back next to Blancafort, Morneo simply oozed class the entire match, calmed and controlled on the ball with some exquisite long range passes , some marauding runs forward, superb positioning and the platform to initiate the deep build up play BEFC needed to be able to threaten a packed Shane FC defence. He was a presence at the back defensively but also as a conductor for releasing the BEFC attack and so for BEFC vs Shane FC, the Adecco BEFC Most Valuable Player is Carlos Moreno!