Pleasantly suprised to have a squad of 15 on a cold night far away in Kwai Chung Sport’s Ground with a few no shows from Joe/Chi/MattT and Hao dropping out.
Our opposition was Ho Kar, a team we played in our first ever A League match in the 5th division on a crappy Lo Fu pitch some years ago, which, if memory serves me, we won 2-nil curtosey of a brace from one Henry Vera in front of his parents.
starting line up: Bertie (GK), Tel, Pablo, TonyC, Sanj, Stef, Tom, Scott, Henry, Cowley and Gez up top. we packed the midfield with 3 players with our 2 wingers instucted to both push forward when attaching
We continued where we left off againts Strollers last wednesday with nice passing football made harder by the state of the dirt bowl and our 2 wingers keeping ho Kar on the back foot. A dream start 2 mins in as Henry won the ball in midfield passed to Scott who fed Cowley who then put a through ball behind the back line for Gez to run out to, rounded the keeper 1-nil.
A few mins later Tom put a though ball out left for Stef to run onto, drawing the keeper out Stef hit a low left foot slow curler across the box, Cowley running in did his best to miss the ball before having a second stab on the line to poke home, unfortunatly Stef’s slow ball confused the linesman who blew off side although everyone was onside when the ball was played. A mirror image move from Tom & Stef moment later saw Stef opt for a lofted cross this time with Scott heading just wide.
Our midfield continued to dominate the middle of the park winning the ball and spreading it out wide for Stef & Cowley as well as through balls for Gez, Gez made a challenge on their keeper outside of the box leaving Stef to shoot into an open net, however his soft shot was cleared before it reached the line. The ref was on form in the first half with an unbiased performance and we won a free kick outside of the box, Stef put a low ball to the right of the wall connecting with Henry? whos shot was put out for a corner.
The final 10 mins of the half saw Ho Kar put us under some pressure with a couple of tame shots although we were kept in our half for a while as they worked down the wings. Coming in at half time and with 4 subs to bring on starting to rue the missed opportunities in the first 10 that could have left us 2-3 up everyone was playing well making subs a hard decisions with the match at 1-nil. First up a formation change going to 4:4:2, Pablo off with Henry dropping into the defence, Cowley off for Matt on the right and Jeff pushing up top with Gez.
The second half was a scrappy event with very little played on the ground, our slick passing football from the start had gone although Ho Kar were pressing a bit more leaving less time on the ball, Scott and Tom continued to dominate the midfield supported by Henry pushing up from defence, our midfield first time passes made the difference allowing us to continue to break. A couple more changes with Tel off, Stef dropping to left back and Sanj off with Matt dropping to right back, Jeff moving to the wing and Jamil up top with Gez.
A potential mug of the day moment when Henry passed the ball out as Terry was down (he had left the pitch) had the sidelines cracking up. As the half progressed the dubious calls started coming as the ref scented a potential draw for the "home side" nevertheless Bertie had very little to do at the back other than read their through balls and come off his line. Up top Gez continued to harass their back line with a number of opportunities cynically snuffed out with elbows and unnoticed trips leaving us dangerously at 1-nil with 10 mins to go. Jamil was looking threatening playing on the back line although a few off side calls later saw the Greek Chorus on the side line singing along to "If he breathes in he is onside, if he breaths out he is offside" – the rap version of which will be released El Tel records later this year****
I forget the exact building up but I think it was Gez breaking again, drew 3 or so defenders before passing to an unmarked Jamil, with the keeper frozen in no mans land Jamil took some measurements on wind speed, direction temperature, ground condition and distance to goal before placing the Jubliani ball into the far left corner, 2-nil. The greek chorus picked up once again noting that "like Defoe, Jamily plays in the corridor of uncertainty on the shoulder of the last man".
Moments later Matt playing at right back but generally to be found in their half made a great run down the right, passed in for Jamil who’s curling shot went wide of the left post. A final change with Jeff and Matt swapping positions and we saw out the match.
3 points will see us (temporarily) up to the kiddy heights of 4th….
Back at the Stag, Man of the Match was a tough call but Tom came up trumps, Mug of the Day was a clean sweep for Cowley with ~7 different reasons why including his blue/brown towel, fluffed ball on the goal line, jogging around the pitch in his yellow top and getting sunburnt in DB