15th May - 13:00hrs Thai / 06:00hrs GMT - TA - Knockout Round 1
Dome FC, widely regarded as Thailand’s best amateur side, were the opposition in what would be Futera United’s biggest and toughest ever game in their short history. The Kasem Bundit University Stadium was once again the venue, with the stands packed with raucous Futera fans who created a carnival atmosphere as the teams took to the pitch.
Futera were dealt a blow before kick off with the news that both Bank and Mai would be unavailable due to injury and it was an unfamiliar front three that kicked off. The opening 15 minutes were a cagey affair with both sides feeling each other out and trying to gain a foothold in the game. Futera’s back four, including John and Tewit, looked comfortable and passed the ball around confidently and with Save aggressively closing down in the middle of the park we were more than holding our own against a very good side with a huge reputation.
In the 25th minute Phu received a ball on the half way line and was able to turn his marker and play a ball over the top of the Dome back four only for their impressive keeper to sweep up and play the ball out to the left back, who was disposed by the industrious Diw who then delightfully chipped the keeper from fully 35 yards to give Futera the lead. Dome responded instantly and after good work on the right flank the ball fell to their centre forward whose firm strike was incredibly tipped over the bar by a diving Film. Dome surged forward looking for the equaliser but the Futera defence stood firm and a strong run from Save saw him slide in Bobo but his left foot drive was well saved by the Dome keeper. The first half would end with Futera holding onto a one goal lead but also nursing a number of injuries to key players.
With Diw and Phu both unable to continue, Ter and Few came on to what turned out to be a heroic 45 minutes from Futera. Dome were immediately in the ascendancy and forced Futera back time and time again without creating any real clear openings. The tireless Pang finally succumbed to a knock in the 59th minute and was replaced by Poom with Tewit moving to right back. Dome were on top now and Futera were defending deeper and deeper and although we were defending bravely our forwards couldn’t keep hold of the ball to ease the pressure. In spite of their possession, Dome had failed to create any real meaningful openings, and with six minutes remaining and the Futera faithful dreaming of the next round, a free kick was awarded on the left flank. Throughout the game our defence had dealt with Dome’s aerial threat but on this occasion, the free kick was swung in and the striker, totally unmarked, headed home the leveler. With Futera players shattered both physically and mentally they were still able to see out the remaining 10 minutes and take the game into a penalty shoot-out.
An eerie silence swept over the Kasem Bundit Stadium as players and fans alike waited nervously for the proceedings to continue. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, the shoot-out began with Dome taking the initiative by scoring their first penalty. John emphatically smashed his kick home to bring Futera back on level terms. Dome’s number 28 stepped up to take their second penalty but his tentative effort was brilliantly saved by Film diving to his left hand side. Futera kept their advantage with Don, Nu and Few all calmly slotting the kicks home. With the scores level at 4-4 skipper Jew, who had had an outstanding 90 minutes, stepped up with the chance to send Futera into the next round. He struck his penalty well to the bottom left hand side of the goal but the Dome keeper at full stretch managed to palm the ball away to send the game into sudden death. The tension now was unbearable as both sides exchanged successful penalties, Ter cooling finishing for Futera. At 6-5 to Dome, Bobo made the long walk to keep us in the match. Unfortunately heartbreak was to follow as his right footed shot to the Dome keeper’s left was kept out and Futera were out. The exuberant celebrations from the Dome bench illustrated just how far we had pushed their side.
A bitter pill to swallow, to lose in the cruelest of fashions, but we should be immensely proud of our team. Futera United are still at the infant stages of their journey, six months ago we were a dream and to play in Thailand’s top amateur competition and more than hold our own against the number one amateur team in Thailand is an incredible achievement. I thought our back four were amazing where John had a fantastic game alongside Tewit. A special mention to Ter, who may not be the most technically gifted of our squad but battled heroically for the cause. No time to wallow in defeat as we are back in action this weekend in the Bangkok Premier League, to try and regain our top spot. Onwards and upwards, exciting times lay ahead for Futera United.