Farmer Bunnies' foray into the Heroes of 2014 Trophy tournament died at the first hurdle, after they were defeated 2-0 by Albanian II.4 winners Manchester Galaxy Team. The Buns' relative lack of teeth sunk them, especially after they conceded early on.
Kostadinović kept faith with the strongly-defensive midfield pairing of Morgan Hu
and Namdar Zarar
that he had gradually transitioned to, to the detriment of Jon Benson
. Benson himself would likely have regarded it as prudent, though, seeing as to how Galaxy were expected to own midfield, what with former Kyrgyz international Mambet Kenjoltoyev in such fine form.
The Buns' hopes of deciding this on the break hit a bump in the eighth minute, unfortunately. Andy Schaal's darting run had been expertly dealt with by Sofian Azfar
, but no-one had counted on the odd spin on the loose ball allowing hometown star Igli Nuhiu in; Nuhiu allowed it one more bounce, before fearlessly lashing a rising strike into the roof of the net.
There were a few openings for both teams in the first half, with those for the Buns indeed coming off counters - Morgan Hu
and Namdar Zarar
didn't have the numbers on their side, sadly, as Galaxy made sure they had men back. Tham Leng Teck
at least got off a promising snap-shot in the 30th minute, but even that brought but a routine save from ex-Cyprus national goalie Michalis Stylianidis.
Farmer Bunnies' purchase on the match only decreased in the second half, as Galaxy's all-around technical chops kept the Buns chasing the ball. Mushtag Al-Nameeri
was called upon to shore up the midfield much earlier than anticipated, as it was all the Buns could do to stay afloat. They clearly had no idea where the equalizer might come from, though Morgan Hu
made a courageous solo bid in the 80th minute. There would be no fairytale, though, as Stylianidis palmed Hu's screamer over the bar.
It would be all over once Ottfried Harrer scored Galaxy's second in a play that started with Tham Leng Teck
's desperate tackle on Schaal; the Buns captain took it badly, being visibly distraught, and had to be consoled by Lau Chang Wan
after the final whistle went.