The Far East Express - Next Stop The Playoffs.
After a strong end to the season we found ourselves finishing 3rd comfortably. This meant that we had qualified for the playoffs.
Now bare with me........
Three teams qualify for the playoffs and it is split into three fixtures, the team who finished second in the league automatically qualify for the Playoff Final. The teams that finish 3rd and 4th compete in the Semi Final. The winner of this semi final qualifies for the final and plays the 2nd placed team.
The winner of this final isn't promoted yet. The winner then goes on to play in the K League 1 Relegation Play off, which is played across 2 legs.
Hope you have stayed with me during that.
So lets get to the action
K League 2 Play Off Semi Final - Anyang (H)
We went into the game against Anyang on the back of a couple of poor performances. I was confident in the tactics and the first team so I instilled some confidence and belief in the lads and sent them out for the biggest game of the season so far.
It was obviously a nervy affair with both teams not giving much away, in fact it took 30 minutes for the first clear cut chance.
It went to Anyang who orchestrated a nice move from a free kick to get their striker through one on one with our keeper. Luckily he fired straight Ho-Jun who made a decent save.
There was one more chance of the half as Anyang broke down the left and put a decent cross into the box which ended in a very tame shot straight at Ho-Jun.
I wasn't impressed with the lack of chances we created and at half time i let me feelings perfectly clear.
We started the second half so much better than Anyang and our pressure was building. A long ball was played over the top by Hyun-Woo from centre back. The flight of the ball beat their central defender and was perfectly controlled by Park Sang-Jun who curled it first time from the edge of the area beyond the keeper.
Park Sang-Jun was put through again after good pressure on their keeper who cleared it to Hwang Kim. He played a brilliant ball through but sadly Park Sang-Jun fired straight at their keeper.
This would have killed the game off and we only created some half chances for the rest of the game. But we defended brilliantly and never looked in any real trouble.
K League 2 Playoff Final - Gwanju (A)
This was going to be a tough tough test as we had only managed to beat Gwangju once in the 5 times we played this season.
The game followed the same pattern as Gwangju dominated possession and the chances but our back 4 were on top form and when Gwangju didn't break through they faced an inspired Son Ho-Jun who repelled everything.
We made it through to half time level thanks to the defensive performance and the wasteful finishing of the Gwangju strikers.
The game followed the same pattern as the first half as Gwangju continued to apply pressure without creating much in the form of clear cut chances.
We hadn't created anything ourselves so we adjusted some instructions trying to get balls lofted over the defence. It payed off almost immediately as a long kick from Son Ho-Jun cleared the defenders, Park Sang-Jun anticipated this and latched on to the ball beating the onrushing keeper to the ball, lofting it into an open net.
1-0 Gangwon FC!!!!
We had scored in the 83rd minute and this put Gwangju under severe pressure and they pushed hard for a equaliser leaving themselves exposed at the back.
Lee Yong-In broke into the box in the 92nd minute and was fouled by the defender. We were given a spot kick to secure victory...... MISSED.
Cho Sang-Hoon with the miss as the goalkeeper saves well. This made me nervous but my god did we continue to defend well.
K League 1 Relegation Playoff First Leg - Seongnam FC (H)
We were drawn against Seongam FC who finished in the relegation playoff places in K League 1 last season.
We have defended so well during these playoffs not conceding a goal yet and this was a great base for our performances and this continued into this 2 legged final.
I know I've been covering each game over two legs during this post but I honesty it would be a waste of time. This was the most uninspiring performance from both teams consisting with only 3 shots on target all game.
It comes down to one final game.
K League 1 Relegation Playoff Second Leg - Seongnam FC (A)
So this is it. The final game of the season.
We started the game well with Hwang Kim pulling the strings from midfield attempting through balls and creating opportunities.
The first big chance of the game fell to Seongnam as their striker charged through the centre of the park he was just about to pull the trigger when a last ditch sliding tackle from Kim Hyun-Woo won the ball back spectacularly.
This tackle launched a counter attack which resulted in a cross from the left intended for Park Sang-Jun but a calamitous error from the Seongnam goalkeeper and one of the central defenders resulted in the ball falling at the feet of Lee Jong-In who tapped it into an empty net.
This early goal really inspired us and we looked to push on and kill the game off before half time.
A well worked move gave the opportunity for a cross from deep which was missed by everyone except Park Sang-Min who was alive at the back stick to tap home.
We made it to half time without any further chances created for either team.
The second half was a nervy affair as an early goal would put us back under real pressure. However our defence looked unbeatable as they have been all the way through this playoff run.
In fact we were the only side that looked like scoring. Park Sang-Jun missed a guilt edge 1 on 1 but Seongnam never got back into the game.
Seongnam 0-2 Gangwon - PROMOTION SECURED.
What a season. In his 10th year as a manager Cha Bum-Kun has taken Gangwon back to the big time as they are promoted back into the top tier of South Korean football.
This will probably be the last time we will be in charge of The Far East Express. I want to thank everyone for keeping up with the save and a special thank you to DP-FM for getting us involved in what has been one hell of a ride!
If you have enjoyed this episode and want to read or main save as we embark on a Wycombe Wanderers Journey you can start way back at the beginning here -
We also have an fascinating International save going as we attempt to take Jamaica to Gold Cup and World Cup glory after acquiring some new recruits who have been ignored repeatedly by England