17 players on the list became 10 by late afternoon with a bunch of injuries and illnesses rippling through the squad + a few lame excuses such as “I have to chaperone a lonely girl” some late call ups saw us travel with a squad of 13 to the outer reaches of Hong Kong on a pretty poor but big old style astro pitch.
Starting formation 4-1-4-1 Sanju (GK), Hemant-Marc-TonyC-Nav, Rory, Ed-Chi-Cowley-Sanj, Patrick. Jeff & Ramos on the bench
Instructions to keep the ball given the lack of subs, wingers to stay wide giving options to counter and Chi and Cowley to be the harassers in midfield and break up their play.
We started well passing the ball around the back, probing as we moved forward and generally leaving the opposition chasing shadows. Sanj found some space cutting in from the right to have an early shot but could not get any power on.
Ed and Hemant worked well down the left with lots of breaks however in the final third the wet surface saw lots of balls skim away. Cowley made some good runs from midfield out wide however the “crosses” were too near the goal for those in the box to get onto the end of. The opposition had no chances of note in the first half however the ref was on their side with respect to challenges with any kind of physical play immediately blown up. Their keeper blatantly handled the ball outside of the box, somehow ended up as a foul by yours truly. Nav got forward from right back and nearly scored having spotted the keeper off his line, numerous players had shots on goal but could not quite finish the task.
20 mins in another Hemant-Ed double act down the wing saw a through ball for yours truly, heading down the left side a pull back behind their lone defender with the keeper drawn off his line saw a simple pass back into the middle of the pack for Cowley to poke home 1-nil.
Couple of changes at half time with Ramos on for Marc, Nav off with Jeff moving into midfield, Cowley to the right and Sanj dropping to left back.
We continued to dominate in the 2nd half however when we lost our shape we gave the ball away easily. Rory and Jeff in the middle gave us a bit more composure going forward and some more intelligent passing football in the final third. Ed again down the left put a low powerful cross into the box, the keeper came out missed it leaving Cowley with an open goal to make it 2-nil and we were coasting.
With ~15 mins to go our centre backs vanished from the back leaving Sanj and Hemant to meet across the divide as the opposition fumbled in the box and slotted one in. A nervy period ensued with Sanju having to make some saves as the opposition suddenly fired in from all angles and the wet pitch sent the ball skidding and swerving.
A ball floated into our box saw a shove in the back on one of their players fortunately went unpunished however their striker found our back four at sea and unmarked at the back post however his shot across the goal went out.
A few more chances at the other end with Chi connecting with Sanj’s cross to head just wide, some long balls from Sanju saw a few first touch shots on goal that went wide and Jeff was linking up well in midfield, the whistle went and we have 2 wins in 2 sitting top of the table – let’s keep it that way!
Those that did not make the match will be ruing the chance as poor opposition like this only comes once in a while and was a golden opportunity to get goals.
Tsang Tai UK Recreation Ground 8pm Sat 8th September (old style Astro)