Updated: Sep 5
3rd September 2023 - 16:00pm Thailand / 09:00am GMT - BPL CUP
Futera United squandered a two-goal lead and ultimately lost a feisty encounter against an aggressive AES Moonlight in the first round of the BPL FA Cup, experiencing back-to-back defeats for the first time in their short career.
Futera had to shuffle the pack just before kick-off when skipper Jew fell ill, and young Beem, only 16 years old, took his place in the midfield alongside Bew and Phu. The tone of the game was set inside the first minute when Moonlight’s towering center-back threw a forearm straight into Beem's face, and incredibly, the referee took no action. Undeterred by their opposition's persistent fouling, Futera took control of the game and began passing the ball with confidence and purpose, forcing a string of corners. Mai, Phu, and Pang combined exceptionally down the right flank, posing a constant threat.
Futera deservedly opened the scoring in the 17th minute when, from a short corner, Phu's teasing cross was headed home by the talismanic M for his first-ever goal for the club. The BPL Division 1 side was clearly rattled and put in some questionable challenges; the Moonlight center-forward was fortunate not to be sent off after a horrendous over-the-top challenge on the outstanding Tewit. Futera kept their composure and went further ahead in the 34th minute when Phu's slide-rule pass found Mai, and his low cross was inadvertently knocked home by the Moonlight center-back, making the score 2-0 for the away side. Minutes later, Beem's angled drive flew over the crossbar with Futera firmly in control.
A dominant first-half performance from Futera saw them holding a 2-0 lead, with Moonlight failing to muster a single strike on goal.
The second half began with Futera making several substitutions, giving debuts to recent signings, notably Ton, Nine, Tan, and Bew. A cagey start to the half saw neither side gaining the upper hand, with once again the game being disrupted by persistent fouling from the home side. In the 59th minute, Moonlight was given a lifeline when a speculative cross from the left flank was misjudged by Film, and the ball somehow found its way into the net. This ignited Moonlight, and they grew in confidence, pushing Futera back. The equalizer had been coming and duly arrived in the 70th minute when an angled drive from the right-hand side of the penalty box beat Film, who could have done better, making the score 2-2.
The BPL Division 1 side now had the momentum, and minutes later, they edged in front when Futera gave away possession, and the Moonlight midfielder scored with an exquisite chip that left Film, who had a day to forget, floundering. Credit to the young Futera side as they stormed back, and in the 72nd minute, after good work from Golf, Phu was clearly upended for a stonewall penalty, but the referee waved play on. Wut came agonizingly close with a deflected volley, and Phu rounded the keeper but was unable to find the net. Despite Futera’s heroic efforts, Moonlight held on to secure their passage into the next round with a 3-2 victory in what had been an enthralling game. It was an extremely bitter pill for Futera to take as they succumbed to defeat and an early exit from the BPL Cup, which they had high hopes of winning. After such a dominant first half, the subsequent collapse in the second half was something I certainly didn't anticipate. I think making so many changes unsettled the team, and we lost a bit of shape. I thought in the first half, we were excellent, with M and Tewit outstanding, as were Bew and Pang. It's a harsh lesson learned, but we will pick ourselves up and go again. There is still a lot to look forward to this season with the FA Cup next month and our BPL Division 2 title challenge.