By Kevin Vernooij.

Goals: 13’ @Tom BeanTom Bean (assist: @Lewis Turnbull); 90’ @Andris Szabo (assist: @Lewis Turnbull) Team: Jack - Andres (Luca), Leo, Andris, Dani C - Dani H, Fran (Tom Boyle), Lewy, Peti, Kev (Francis), Tom Bean

Cup football, the purest form of the game. Two teams going head to head and only one may survive. Sometimes the luck of the draw may be on your side, and sometimes it may be against you.

In only Budapest Celtic’s 2nd official competitive game in many years, we were paired with a team we could argue “should” still be some steps ahead of us in several aspects of the game. The opponent on the night, CSEP-GÓL FC, sit 10th in BLSZ 1 (we have been entered into BLSZ 4) with 3 league games under their belt and a full pre-season. A group of 18-25 year olds from a football school in which they train and practise together 4 times a week, some of them for many years already. We, Budapest Celtic, or ZÖLD-FEHÉREK SE as we are gracefully called at the moment, just one competitive game a few days earlier that finished 2-2, and half a pre-season with a mixed squad of individuals from all over the planet. Still finding our footing in BLSZ 4. You’d say this would be an uneven match-up. David vs Goliath.

The stories of Cup Football don’t always favour Goliath though. In Cup Football, there are other forces at play!

Right from the kick-off Csep-Gol tried to get the ball forward without too much trickery and attempted to find their forwards with diagonal long balls behind our defence. Celtic stood firmly though and kept the shape to cut out the passes and work a way forward as well. For about 10 minutes both teams looked evenly matched. Something that would have caused some surprise on the visitors' bench. Sadly for us, one of these long balls found its target and the Csep-Gol striker was able to make the most of it by taking it past Jack and slotting it into the net. A goal down early in the game, undeservedly so. This was a make or break moment; let your head go down and get discouraged and you’re in for an unpleasant evening. Or, get back at it and fight for what you’re worth. We were not going to let them run away with this. Almost immediately after restarting the game, we were able to get a few passes together and get Tom Bean engaged in the opponent's half. A short dribble, a shot, a cannonball, a ROCKET! The entire Csep-Gol squad, bench, staff, fans, everyone could only watch in awe as Tom struck the ball so cleanly one would almost consider it poetry. The goalkeeper made a futile attempt to reach for it but it was always ever going to end up in the top-left corner from 25 metres.

A goal each after 15 minutes of play and two teams fairly equal. Csep-Gol got more of the ball but weren’t sure what to do with the disciplined shape and incredible heart and fighting spirit that we showed them. This was clearly not what they had expected. Surely this new BLSZ 4 team full of odd foreigners couldn’t be that good!?

They needed a free kick not far from halftime to finally catch a break. A light foul just outside the box and the Csep-Gol number 7 curled it into the corner just beyond the reach of the outstanding Jack Dolan. With this, the teams went into the break with the score at 1-2, but the game was far from over.

Several changes from Csep-Gol meant they regained a bit of the control of the game and forced us to defend deeper as they went on to search for the 3rd goal. We continued to keep our shape though and didn’t hold back going forward either. Lewy kept making excellent use of space between the lines with his typical drifting movements and was unlucky not to see any of his efforts rewarded more generously. In the meantime, the midfield dynamos Dani Harasztos, Fran stood their ground to cut out any danger in the middle of the park.

The 2nd half seemed to pass by quickly as we entered into the final 10 minutes of the game that could honestly still go either way. Understandably, the Celtic legs were tiring and Csep-Gol played higher and higher putting us against the ropes. Nobody was letting their head down though and with just 1 goal difference we kept believing in an upset. We were unfortunate for a moment in the 80th minute where the opponent did find some space and was able to put the ball across the goal to be tapped in at the far post. For any other team, with less than 10 minutes on the clock and 1-3 down, this would have been a killer blow. Not Celtic though, Celtic IS built differently.

Csep-Gol did keep the majority of the ball, but made the mistake to believe they had the game in the bag and got complacent in transition. Several times we were able to break and Lewy once robbed their CB from the ball in a dangerous position, only to be debatably called offside by the referee.

In the dying moments of the game we had another break that could only be stopped by a foul and offered a sudden way back into the game. An excellent cross by Lewy and Andris Szabo towering above everything and everyone to power his header into the back of the net. Csep-Gol knees were shaking! Drama was about to unfold. We sent everybody forward and Jack kicked the ball up one last time. The referee already looking at his watch. Everyone went for it and the ball dropped to Tom Bean in the Csop-Gol box. One shot on goal, saved, second shot on goal, saved, third shot on goal, SAVED! Final whistle.

End result 2-3.

David may not have beaten Goliath that night, but everyone that was there knows we haven’t seen the last of him.

A massive shout out to Man of the Match - Tom Bean who was an unstoppable force going forward and single-handedly brought us back in the game when we really needed it. Without his incredible strike to level the game, we might not have been in the position to fight until the end.

Furthermore, everyone deserves praise and recognition for the incredible effort. We left it all out on the pitch. Jack in goal, Andres and Dani C on the side, Leo and Andris directing from the back with the support of Luca in the 2nd half. Dani H, Fran, Lewy, and Peti H keeping their shape and fighting like lions in midfield with Francis and Tom Boyle in support. And of course, Tom Bean leading the line.

A lot of points to work on and improve tactically for sure. But with the spirit and heart of yesterday, I am confident we can make some waves. Szép volt fiúk!

67 views0 comments