City Overpower the San Chung Boys

Time: 3pm, January 15th, 2012

Venue:BaiLingBridgeRiversidePark

By Michael Christie

On a treacherous pitch inimical to the stylish kind of game Taipei City aspires to, the boys of San Chung Senior High were looking for an upset. In the end, though, while they showed clever footwork and some pace, they lacked strength. A solid if unspectacular performance from City was enough.

Dan started with a back line of Dale Neal in goal, Matt Wharton at right-back, Brian McGuinness and Tom Clarke in central defense, and Oumar Yassouf at left-back.  In midfield, Danny Weir, Ebrima Njie, Michael Christie and Alex Ramirez schemed to supply Neao King and Dan Calvert up front. On the bench, Brian Fitzpatrick, Danny “Dapper” Wilkinson, Omar Malcolm and Lionel Cassanova provided exceptional depth.

Looking a little short of match fitness and not quite at their sharpest, City pushed forward and put the boys under pressure in their own half. San Chung were not given the time to settle on the ball and so made a lot of mistakes. The conditions were not right for flowing football, though, so City also made their own fair share of mistakes. At least City kept the ball in San Chung’s half. Surprisingly, San Chung drew first blood when a long through-ball cleared the heads of the City defense and the San Chung forward calmly lobbed it over the advancing Dale.

City’s reply was not long in coming. Some good passing resulted in Ebu with a man to beat on the edge of the penalty box. Ebu cleverly crafted an opening and his shot had enough power to beat the keeper. At 1-1 City kept on working hard and their effort was rewarded when from the half-way line Matt Wharton in the right-back position sent a curving ball into the near post for Dan Calvert to run onto and hit on the bounce. About five minutes later, the third goal was almost identical. Perhaps it bounced a little higher this time? Anyway, Dan Calvert again lashed it into the far corner. City were coming forward now with more conviction. Danny Weir and Alex Ramirez on the flanks were both making inroads. City’s fourth goal came when Dan shot from the right and the San Chung keeper could only parry it and push it out for Ramirez to collect on the left. He fashioned an angle but his shot was pushed onto the bar by the keeper. Bouncing down quite hard and bouncing quite high, Ebu was able to get his head to the ball ahead of two chasing San Chung defenders. The score stayed at 4-1 until half-time.

At half-time, Neao made way for Omar Malcolm and Christie came off for Brian Fitzpatrick. Alex Ramirez went into centre midfield so Brian Fitzpatrick could take the left-sided berth. In truth, the second half was not so different from the first half. City still had most of the possession inside San Chung’s half. Within fifteen minutes, though, San Chung had managed to string together several passes in a good move starting from their own half. Dale didn’t have much chance in the one-on-one; again San Chung had snaffled a goal against the run of play. It was now 4-2.

Any fears that San Chung would mount a serious challenge as had International the previous week were allayed by City’s continuing dominance in midfield. The surface didn’t help but City managed to keep hold of a lot of the ball. San Chung hardly created another chance, while City could have had five or six more goals and should have had at least two or three, but a combination of wastefulness and some good keeping from San Chung’s diminutive keeper kept the score down. It has to be said that San Chung also defended energetically.

Perhaps the highlight of the second half was Danny Weir’s run across the face of the penalty area and left-footed shot. He beat at least three players before unleashing a shot good enough to beat the keeper but just a little too high to beat the bar.

There were two more substitutions to come in the second half. With about twenty-five minutes to play, “Dapper” Danny Wilkinson came on for Matt Wharton. Then, about five minutes later, Lionel came on for Danny Weir. The character of the game remained the same, with San Chung unable to break out from the City stranglehold. In that sense, City ground out the victory.

In conclusion, City deservedly won having done enough. Whether this will be good enough in the future against more testing teams remains to be seen. Every City player on the day will be feeling that there is room for improvement.

TaipeiCity FC 4 – 2 San Chung

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