Bülent Kokmaz’s Karabükspor played the entire second half with 10 men after Jamaica forward Luton Shelton got a direct red from referee Cüneyt Çakır in the 45th minute for a vicious foul on German-born libero Michael Fink. Nevertheless, the Karabük side won 2-1.
Samsunspor coach Mesut Bakkal blamed bad luck for the defeat. “At times things just do not go as planned, and that can explain why we could not outscore our opponents even when they were down to 10 men,” said the coach, whose team also failed to convert a penalty in the 84th.
Karabükspor and Samsunspor had several things in common going into Monday’s game. Both are Black Sea teams and so this match, naturally, was dubbed a Black Sea derby by the local media.
Before the match, Karabükspor was placed 16th with 21 points and Samsunspor 17th with 20, and both teams boasted the worst defensive record in the entire 18-strong Super League, having conceded a combined total of 88 goals.
The Karabükspor away match against İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor in week 24 was canceled due to inclement weather and rescheduled for Feb. 9. Samsunspor, however, was the talk of the town in week 24 after Bakkal’s men walloped visiting championship contender Fenerbahçe 3-1 at 19 Mayıs Stadium on Feb. 2.
Samsunspor, on paper, seemed more motivated for Monday’s match, but Karabükspor had the advantage of playing in front of its home fans -- the 12th player. One thing, however, was as certain as death: The winner would live to fight another day, while the loser would have to seriously start considering life in the Bank Asya League 1 (second division).
Kardemir Karabükspor took the game to Samsunspor after referee Çakır blew the starting whistle at 7 p.m., proving once again that football is a game played not on “a piece of paper” -- a notorious phrase in Turkey -- but on the field of play.
Striker İlhan Parlak, a Fenerbahçe reject, broke the deadlock after 15 minutes, when he hit a powerful shot into the back of the Samsunspor net to give Karabükspor a 1-0 lead.
Things were expected to turn sour for Karabükspor after the 45th minute, when Shelton got his marching orders and the team was reduced to 10 men. But that was far from being the case as Kardemir Karabükspor returned from the break even stronger than the first half. And so it came as no surprise when İlhan scored a brace in the 55th to double the score for Korkmaz’s team -- redirecting a pass from Galatasaray reject Mustafa Sarp past Samsunspor’s junior international keeper Mahmut Ertuğrul Taşkıran.
Midfielder Murat Yıldırım scored Samsunspor’s consolation goal four minutes before the end of regular time (86th) but it was too little, too late to turn the tide in favor of Baykal’s men.
Karabük’s Korkmaz, despite his team’s victory, was furious after Monday’s match, not because of the result but because of the tight schedule organized by the malfunctioning Turkish Football Federation (TFF). “Never in my life have I played six matches in two weeks,” said Korkmaz, whose team will be facing İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor away on Thursday and then take on Fenerbahçe at home on Sunday.
“We have applied for the Sunday match to be moved to Monday, but to no avail. Anyway, I have also said that as long as you put on a good fight you can never lose. And that’s what happened in the match against Samsunspor,” he added.
Elsewhere on Monday, Eskişehir spor won 3-1 over visiting İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor, and Manisaspor compounded the woes of doomed Ankaragücü with a 1-0 victory in the cold capital.