January 2008: Esprit continue where they left off.
With the manager away on international duty, Caretaker boss, Olgun took charge as he led the side out for their first encounter of 2008. Their opponents were Sunday Independent side, Flamengo and they proved to be worthy opponents as their were in the top 2 in their respective league table, fighting for promotion. Olgun unselfishly up himself on the bench and barked out instructions from the side line as his side battled well. Flamengo drew first blood with a brilliantly taken shot, and Esprit came straight back with some slick passing. Neg played a killer through ball to Tolga who timed his run beautifully and passed it pass the keeper. However moments later , after a few sloppy clearences, it lead to Flamengo taking the lead again, again it was well taken. Esprit dug in deep and with the player manager now on the field, Olgun headed in the equalier into the far corner from a Neg corner. 2-2. Game on and in the second half, with Esprit putting pressure on their opponents, Olgun won the ball of their defender and found Tolga who chipped the keeper for his second and the eventual winner. A good game played in good spirits. Well done to Olgun and the boys and they kept their unbeaten run going. Talk in the dressing room was, Runo who ?
Team : Burton, Valente, Yeo, Brown, Kirby, Ulugun, Urubusi, Dupree, Kuku, Kulahcigil, Hansen. (Gokdemir)
Esprit exited the cup when a mystery bug hit most of the squad. With a selection of 25 available, only 9 could make it and with Runo going through his little black book, he made some calls to call upon some players who weren't due to play. Esprit were 3-0 at half time and had a mountain to climb. All of these players gave it their all and deserve man of the match awards all round for keeping the game alive. Eventually a couple of players turned up for the second half but it was already too late. Even thought Esprit lost 5-1 and missed out on an opportunity to progress in the cup that was winable, the boys have to focus on the league now starting next week against Coral. For the record Esprit have had a miserable time in the League Cup since joining the Corinthian League, having never won a game, and eventually losing to the winners.
Team : Burton, Blanks, Brown, Hill, Parker, Webb, Olgun, Kuku, Runo. ( late arrivals: Akurang & Khan)
Esprit bounced back to extend their league run to 5 unbeaten and 11 points from the past 15 games to pull out of the relegation zone and enter the mid table group of teams. It is a very tight league at the moment and Esprit have done well to get back in the mix.
With a good solid squad available this week, Esprit were more mentally tuned in. With no strikers available, Olgun and Kuku were pushed up top and performed well as a unit. Olgun held the ball up beautifully, laid off Greenhill, fresh from his honeymoon who set up Kirby who did the rest with a great finish into the top corner to give the keeper no chance. Great team play and all within 30 seconds from the start of the game. What a start! Esprit dominated the first half and were wasteful in front of goal. It should have been 3 or 4 at the break and it was all positive stuff. The only downside was the ease that the boys gave away corners, when they weren't really under any great pressure. The second half again Esprit were wasteful in front of goal, and on a better day Kuku would have got a hat trick. It almost cost Esprit as Coral got a goal completely against the run of play.Still Esprit didnt panic and stuck to their gameplan and were duly rewarded. With 15 minutes to go Olgun, on his 250th game did get on the scoresheet after Greenhill' shot was saved on the line, Ogs jumped in like a steamtrain to bundle the ball and his whole body into the net. Last 5 minutes and the game was sealed when Martin Webb dribbled the ball into the area with some great skill only to be hacked down for his troubles. Neg took the resulting penalty with authority. So the final score remained 3-1 and Esprit climbed another position up the league, breathing down the necks of a handful of sides.
Team : Burton, Valente, Brown, Yeo, Parker, Ulugun, (Webb), Dupree, Greenhill, Kirby, Kuku, Olgun (Runo)
First home league game of 2008 and the gaffer had a little treat for the boys after their decent run. A photoshoot and brand new training tops. After a decade of no royalities the boys were over the moon in their new garms.