With a couple of no shows and Leandro/Aidan pulling out in the morning, we started with Scott and Thomie as center backs. Flabbo and Paul started as full backs. The midfield was Rob, Tom, Lionel and Matt, with the returning Mehdi supporting Jeff up front. We started off quite brightly, with Lionel and Matt getting a lot of the ball and providing an attacking threat with Jeff and Mehdi making some telling runs. Hoo Cheung are a decent attacking team, but we were able to quash their attacks. Thomie went into the book for what the referee deemed an elbow on the opponent. Unfortunately, this set the tone for the refereeing decisions to follow in this match and only fueled Hoo Cheung to take advantage of the somewhat biased decisions. As the half progressed we started making our dominance show. Jeff came close while dribbling around a few defenders. Tom had a good effort just sail over the bar. At the other end Hoo Cheung had the ball in the net, but their striker fouled Sanju in the build up. Lionel pulled up with a calf injury and had to be replaced with Bobby with 5 minutes remaining in the half. Bobby slotted into right back and Flabbo went right midfield. HT:0:0.
Hoo Cheung made their customary changes at half time and this seemed to give them more of a spark. They started more aggressively and were starting to create a few chances. However, the defense did not look at all threatened. As the half progressed we started making our own chances. Flabbo found Jeff free in the box, but he was unable to direct his header towards goal. We had a number of corners and were unlucky not to break the deadlock when Rob came close. With 10 mins remaining Hoo Cheung undeservedly took the lead. From a free kick we were unable to clear our lines and the ball found a Hoo Cheung player unmarked to slot the ball past a shocked defense. With the goal lead Hoo Cheung played their dirty tactics, stalling at every set play, feigning injury….everything to frustrate us. They are the masters at this and unfortunately Matt got sucked into a foul and was consequently sent off for a second bookable offense. We battled on, but were unable to get back on level terms. Jeff had a great opportunity to equalize as we were awarded a free kick just outside the box with seconds remaining. The Keeper made a comfortable save. FT: 0-1.
The score line was certainly not a fair reflection of the game. We played some good football in parts and were unlucky not to get “at least” a draw. Everyone played fantastically well and couldn’t fault our commitment. The defense played brilliantly well and never looked like conceding. The midfield played very well and controlled the game, whilst thwarting many Hoo Cheung attacks. Jeff and Mehdi were very busy up front and were unlucky not to get on the score sheet. However, my MOM this week are two players. Rob and Tom. Well played.