"This has the look of being one of those under 2.5 goals a game bets," my friend Ender told me 10 minutes into Sunday afternoon's Genclerbirligi v Kayserispor match. At the time, I agreed. How wrong we were.
Genclerbirligi 4 - 1 Kayserispor
Ender and I had been out at Kecioren all day Saturday and Sunday giving a cricket umpire's course and so we didn't have time to get down to the Beer Bus for our customary pre-match refreshments. I have no exact idea but I reckon it has been at least three years since I have gone to the 19 Mayis stone-dead sober. It was an interesting experience but one that I shan't be making a habit of.
The weather in Ankara has been lovely in the last week so it came as a bit of a surprise to see snow falling in Kecioren an hour-and-a-half before kick-off. A quick dash off home and then off to the stadium where Ender and I were joined by Oguz, Flying Dutchman Kanka, one of the security guards from the British Embassy and his son.
Gencler came out with a banner celebrating the 166th anniversary of the Turkish police force, which resulted in possibly the first time I've seen our players getting booed before a ball has even been kicked and then we were on.
It was cold, not deadly though, but the pitch looked extremely slippery and players were falling over left right and centre.
Match-wise we started out with a 4-3-3 formation with both Pektemek and Zec on the field. Attacking thoughts but our midfield was rubbish for most of the first half. Oktay was having a poor match and Yasin wasn't looking good either. Quite a few times it seemed as if we couldn't get the ball through to our forwards at all.
It was all very frustrating with plenty of possession squandered as we sent the ball time and again back to our keeper Ozkan (I don't know why Serdar wasn't playing, nor our second-choice keeper Ramazan). Kayseri were clearly playing the better football and it was ex-Gencler player James Troisi was the best player on the pitch. Troisi was getting plenty of boos every time he got the ball thanks to the way he jumped ship a couple of years ago when he joined Kayseri.
All was getting a bit boring when Pektemek got the ball about 40 metres out with plenty of defenders in front of him. He jinked this way, he jinked that way. Yasin and Zec were both waiting for the pass and we were all shouting "PASS THE BLOODY THING!" He ignored us of course, had a shot and placed it wonderfully to the left of the Kayseri keeper diving full stretch. Woooo hoooo.
Half-time and all was well but justice would have at least allowed Kayseri to have scored one. They had a million free kicks just outside the box (most of them deserved) but most of them went flying out or straight into the wall. Aykut was also having a great game in defence time and again quashing Kayseri attacks.
Gencler's coach Ralf Zumdick had clearly seen the problems we were having in midfield and replaced Oktay with Mehmet. It was at this point that everything started to look up. Then we had another great goal. This time from Zec who managed to get to the side of a defender and shoot from an angle to perfectly place the ball onto the post and in. Excellent stuff.
Still though Kayseri looked the better team and certainly the one more likely to score. Which they did when our defence failed to pick up a Kayseri player inside the box.
The Gencler supporters started shouting for Azofeifa to come on and a few minutes later Zumdick relented and sent him in. Nice of Zumdick to listen to us.
About this stage the referee gave a decision against us which the crowd didn't like so we started up a "şişko hakem" chant. Being politicly-aware this chant was soon changed to "Obez Hakem".
It was looking a bit worrying but then Jedinak sent a brilliant pass across to someone or other who immediately sent it back to the box where Jedinak was steaming in, got it with his knee and into the net.
Then came the icing on the cake as Azofeifa took a free kick which found Jedinak who was unable to get a shot off but the ball ended up with Aykut who topped off a great performance with a great goal.
Celebrations in the stands and all is looking good. We have almost certainly avoided the drop this season so Friday's result against Besiktas doesn't really matter. The thing that matters though is next Thursday's Cup semi-final second leg against Istanbul BBS. Win that and we will probably be up against Besiktas in the final. "Kupa bizim olacak, kupa bizim olacak".... Inshallah.