None of that boring 0-0 stuff for Genclerbirligi. No, Siree, this was tense stuff that ended with both disappointment and relief.
Genclerbirligi 0 - 0 Trabzonspor
Off to the Alerta Pub where John and James and Little Oz and Orcan and me had some serious discussions about football clubs in Turkey and in the near abroad. One thing I learnt was that the "K" in AEK Athens actually stands for "Constantinople" as the club, and plenty of others in Greece, was founded by Greeks who "left" Turkey in the 1920s.
No out and out striker in Genclerbirligi's first 11. The collective response from Gencler's fans was that this was madness from new coach Umit Ozat. The general consensus was that even though Stancu was injured we should be playing a recognised forward up front especially as Trabzonspor have been pretty ropey recently.
Nothing amazing sort of start... except the referee and linesman seemed to have no idea. Then came the match changer when Ugur Ciftci made a studs up tackle on a Trabzon player and seemed to get him quite high. You could hear the scream of real or fake agony from where we were sat miles away from where it happened. Straight red was the probably correct decision.
So.. an hour to withstand the Trabzon attack and not having any dedicated forwards on the pitch seemed rather lucky.
Ozat swapped out Kamal Issah for Rantai and we started playing 4-4-1 with Rantie running around up front.
And then it was on. This was old style Test match need to bat all day on a turning pitch football. If you know me you will realise that praise doesn't get much higher.
Trabzon start to dominate. They held possession for extremely long periods of time but due to some excellent defence, especially from Ahmet Calik, they could only get a couple of long range shots to test Hopf.
It was tense stuff and Trabzon seemed to be wilting a bit. With the clock on 88 Ozat brought on a striker! Amazing really. Almost immediately Muriqi made a difference and it was on. Massive surges by Genclerbirligi and after a corner Ahmet Calik managed to kick a ball straight at the lunging boots of the Trabzon keeper... no goal.
Arrrggghhhh. We could have had it... but at the same time this was great defence. I've seen plenty of drab nil-nils at the 19 Mayis. This wasn't one of them.