Unprecedented Penalty Saves City’s Skin

Time: 7.30pm, November 11, 2009
Venue: Bai Ling Bridge Riverside Park

A cagey affair saw City edge out a resilient Shin Kong Mitsukoshi side 2-1 last Wednesday evening. In an unprecedented turn of events, the City boys had the referee to thank when they were awarded a very dubious penalty midway through the second half, at a time when neither team had yet managed to score. Mitsukoshi’s central defender was adjudged to have tugged at Dan Calvert’s jersey as he tried to get on the end of a cross from the right wing. Whether the incident happened in the box–or even happened at all–is debatable, but nonetheless proved critical to the outcome of the match. They say these things even out over the course of a season–let’s see how that theory pans out.

Tim Murphy had to wait an awfully long time before the Mitsukoshi players’ and management team’s heated protestations at the decision finally petered out and the game could proceed. Despite the uncertain nature of the penalty award, however, some were left wondering how a five-minute, on-pitch tirade at the officials by the Shin Kong delegation was allowed to go unpunished. Thankfully, the final whistle was not quite blown as the opposition’s “extra” men eventually trundled off the pitch, albeit reluctantly (and noisily), leaving Murphy free to take the spotkick. Surprisingly, he was still able to remember what he was doing there after the long hiatus, and held his nerve to slot the ball low and hard to the keeper’s right, putting his team in front.

Not long after, Calvert added a second when a high chipped shot was batted into the net by their keeper’s flailing arm. Not the prettiest goal ever, but it gave City a two-goal cushion that was crucial to them holding on to the three points at the 90-minute mark. City struggled to break down the Mitsukoshi defence all night and looked bereft of ideas going forward. They lacked penetration throughout the game and were lucky not to be caught on the counterattack on a number of occasions after successive attacks broke down.

Mitsukoshi’s international striker Johnson looked particularly impressive and was very unlucky not to score a couple: the post once saving City and stand-in keeper Matt Wharton pulling off an impressive save in the second half.  By the time Mitsukoshi scored, it was too late to mount a real comeback against a patched up City side that, by then, had lost its keeper and centre backs to injury.

The game was a cheap lesson to the City boys as their title challenge gets fully under way. Mitsukoshi have certainly improved this season and will prove a stern test to every team they play.

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