Category Archives: vs. Fritz Air

The Season So Far

By Michael Christie

After twelve games played, with ten victories, one draw and one defeat, Taipei City face into the penultimate game of the BML season in top spot. So, how has the season actually progressed for Taipei City so far…? Read on…

Game 1: An Easy Opener against JFC

Taipei City was lucky to have their easiest game of the season first. New to the BML, JFC strangely decided to field a weak team. Or maybe it was too early for some of their better players? Anyway, Dan, Dawda and company had a field day. The final score was 11-1 and that was a fair reflection of the match.
JFC improved later in the season, but after losing to the Red Lions on January 23rd missed out on a chance to claim sixth spot and with that a place in the top league for round 2.

Game 2: A Second Convincing Win against Feng Ching

Buoyed by the previous week, Taipei City struck again to inflict a big defeat on Feng Ching. Dan and Dawda led the scoring with goals galore! Some others chipped in with a few beauties, too!

(Feng Ching has done little to suggest they don’t deserve to be near the bottom of the league this season. They won’t need to worry about us again this season as they battle it out for seventh spot.)

Game 3: Mitsukoshi Give City their First Test

This was City’s first competitive game. Mitsukoshi have one of the meanest defenses in the league and City needed to work hard before Dawda or Dan delivered in the last few minutes before half-time. It was 1-0 but it had been a really even game in all areas. After the break, City again worked hard and played some fair football to make it 3-0 before Mitsukoshi scored a deserved consolation.

(Mitsukoshi have a really mean defense and keep the games tight to the very end. Nobody else has come close to beating Mitsukoshi 3-1. Dan and Dawda were in excellent form in this game. The results tell us Mitsukoshi beat Fritz 2-1 and drew 2-2 with Bulien. Apart from losing to City, Mitsukoshi were beaten 1-0 by Dentway. They also got a few 0-0 draws against lower-ranking teams. They are as hard to score against as Bulien and Fritz but less likely to score goals – only ten in eight games this season. Anyway, they are certainly capable of beating anybody in this league. With the acquisition of a really good striker, they might be giants!)

Game 4: City Stumble and Fall against Bulien

After four straight wins, Taipei City suffered a well-deserved defeat against the under-regarded Hong Min Bualien. Lateness and arrogance (thinking we could still perform against a football team just by making sure we turned up a few minutes before kick-off) were the undoing of City. Credit should not be taken away from Hong Min. They were clearly the better side and deserved the 3 points on the day. Every Taipei Citizen who came to the game was justifiably upset and disappointed with himself. This was a low point for everybody connected to Taipei City FC.

(Hong Min have a disciplined and settled formation, work hard and absorb pressure. They are good at getting an early goal and then being patient. How good are they? Well, they are always solid and are a team who simply cannot be underestimated. They will give us a very stern test.)

Game 5: City Return to Winning Ways

Without player-coaches Ross and Dan, the Taipei City players were determined to redeem themselves after the loss against Hong Min. Alex Ramirez and Dawda ably managed this week’s incarnation of Taipei City to a hard-working 5-0 win. This was another potential banana skin for City, as Dentway have had a good season. (Indeed, after beating Mitsukoshi 1-0 on January 23rd they are neck and neck with Fritz on seventeen points!) This was a hard game until City put away some difficult chances with good finishing late in the game. City really had to work hard for the win, and the late goals were the result of some great finishing, which doesn’t always happen late in a game but is great when it does.

(Dentway are obviously a better side than this result suggests. A dominant performance by the City defense, in particular Tom on this occasion, nullified their attack. Dentway will be determined to beat us and should be ear-marked as potential champions. They will definitely give us a hard game.)

Game 6: City Bring it Home to Rogue

In City’s first “expat derby” Rogue seriously wanted to dent some pride. However, City just didn’t allow Rogue to get any foothold in the game. Rogue defended stoutly but couldn’t keep out Alex Ramirez’s sweet left-foot volley before half-time. In the second half further goals from Christie and two others sealed a 4-0 win!

(Rogue just haven’t had a good BML season. This was the one and only BML game we’ll play against them this campaign. Rogue will have to try to redeem themselves by grabbing seventh spot if they can.)

Game 7: City Bring it Home to the Lions, Too

This was City’s second “expat derby” in as many weeks, but like Rogue the week before, the Red Lions failed to give City much trouble. The Lions had assembled a good group of players for this game, including the excellent Mike O’Gorman, City’s Player of the Year last season, but collectively didn’t play their best on the day. The Red Lions went down to a Dawda strike and a Dan header and one more goal from Oumar.

(The Lions look like they will make it to sixth spot, in which case we will play them again. Don’t be fooled that they played anywhere near their best in this January 16th game. If they can improve in a few areas they will mount a challenge. They also have a new forward, an American who by all accounts has the ability to challenge Dan and Dawda for the title of best foreign striker in Taiwan.)

Game 8: City Spank the Boys

Poor, old Sanchung, firmly rooted to bottom spot. Poor, old Sanchung? Poor, young Sanchung, more like. Despite having a good coach, bags of running and great potential, the new-look high school team is simply too raw at this stage to compete against fully-grown men. Two goals from Dan, two from Dawda (including a penalty he won following an amazingly cheeky dribble around two teenagers very close to the goal) and more from Brian McGuinness and Alex Ramirez put paid to Sanchung. City had a good work-out in this game. Will they be ready to forgo the “Thank You, Coach” next year?

(When they learn to get stuck in they will be a good team. Let’s give them time. This season is a learning experience for them. They are still a little too nice and like all young people, don’t know who their real friends are. Hopefully, playing against Rogue will bring out the anger that is no doubt welling up inside their adolescent minds but needs an adequate outlet. Let’s hope they kick out against the Rogue!)

Game 9: Fritz have no Answer to the Pressure of City living

There was a time when Fritz was feared for their clinical sharpness and ability to keep the ball. They would make the opposition run all day. This time, even bolstered by a few new players in different positions, they struggled to compete on even terms. City pegged them back for most of the game and restricted them to breakaways. Against most defences they would have been dangerous, but with Tom Clarke and Yunusa Njie marshalling at the back they hardly got a shot on target. City played one of their best games of the season to win 3-0.

[Round 2] At this stage the league is split into two sections with the top 6 teams remaining in the top division and the bottom 4 teams relegated to the second division.

Game 10: City narrowly escape from Hungry Lions in a Fierce Encounter

The Red Lions gave City a much stiffer game this time. With some new players and new ideas, the Lions never gave City enough time to settle on the ball, and so the spectators were treated to an old-fashioned end to end game, in which anything might happen next. Thanks to some good forward play near the end of the game, particularly a good finish from Alex Ramirez to make the score 2-1, City still had enough class to edge this encounter, but it was always too close for comfort. Dale and his defence played well to keep the Lions to a single goal. The Lions hit the post twice thanks to their new forward, who impressed everybody. City were certainly lucky the Lions didn’t have a few more performers of the same calibre as him (the new forward) and Mike O’ Gorman, City’s Player of the Season last season. That’s probably why, in spite of playing poorly, City did enough to earn a 3-1 win come the final whistle.

 

Game 11: No Sale at Mitsukoshi on a Sloppy Saturday Night

On one of the wettest days in years, City was obliged to field a team to play a game of football on a swamp, which was a pond in places. The referee, seeing that City was ready to play, tried to cancel five minutes before kick-off at six, but Ross insisted on playing. It was the right decision because the only thing worse than being asked to play in those conditions would have been being asked to postpone when everybody was kitted up and ready to play. The game? It was not football. City went 2-0 up in the first half courtesy of two fine long range strikes from Michael Christie but conceded before half-time from a well executed free kick. Then, Mitsukoshi hit long balls in hope and eventually, near the end, somehow fluked an equalizer.

Game 12: City strikers dread trip to the dentist.

On the form they displayed in this game, Dentway are surely not capable of getting results against the best teams in the BML. Actually, they have a dangerous forward, so they relied on defending in depth and the break-away. City gifted the Dentway forward a goal in the first ten minutes and then, even with most of the possession, struggled to make any effective inroads in the Dentway penalty area. Just before half-time, Dawda managed to snaffle a goal at the end of one of the few meaningful City attacks, but the evening was looking bleaker and bleaker the longer City couldn’t put the ball in the net. With the second half, City brought on Ebu and Paco. There was more fluency in possession from City in the second half, but Dentway still held out. In the end, when nerves were really being fried, only a daisy-cutter from Dan separated City from a night of real embarrassment. 2-1 to City.

So with two games left to play Taipei City find themselves one point ahead of their 3-0 defeaters from earlier in the season, Hong Min Bualien.  The two remaining ties couldn’t be tougher with old rivals and 7 times BML champions Fritz this weekend and a final day show down with the aforementioned Bualien. It’s games like these that make the difference between good teams and champions.

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The Champions Prove their Point

Time: 10am, March 21st, 2010
Venue: Bai Ling Bridge Riverside Park

By Michael Christie

On a warm morning, with a sandstorm blowing in from Mainland China, Taipei City faced Fritz Air in their penultimate game this season. Missing their influential contingent of Gambian students, City nevertheless assembled a strong eleven, albeit without regular goalkeeper, Dale (who turned up after the final whistle), obliging Spencer to put on the keeper’s jersey and gloves. Spencer did very well in goal, but Dale was undoubtedly missed. (Thank you, Spencer, for your generosity. In the event, we were missing a little bit of the teeth in the outfield which you usually provide.)

The starting eleven unchanged throughout the match was Spencer Pangborn in goal; John Phillips , Tim Murphy , Oliver Harley  and Ross Conlon in defence; Niklas Denser, Michael Christie, Mike O’Gorman and Ed Cartee in midfield; and Alex Ramirez and Dan Calvert up front. The first half saw City keep most of the possession. Fritz Air were content to sit back and wait for opportunities to counter-attack. City played with patience and put together some good moves, but rarely shifted gear. Possibly City showed too much composure on the ball. City played the safe balls and didn’t pass quickly enough, so there wasn’t really much pressure being put on Fritz Air.

There were not too many chances for City in the first half – there were even fewer for Fritz Air – so everybody was relieved when a shot by Conlon from a narrow angle broke the back of the net. For the record, this was not “the luck of the Irish” but a brilliantly executed trick. Fritz Air had their best players out and so were able to play some skilful football at close quarters, but they rarely got near threatening the goal. Cartee was involved in both of City’s brightest moments in this game. His dummy for O’Gorman and angled run created a chance he only narrowly missed. And, an extremely impudent pirouette on the ball started a dribble which saw him beat four men. Both O’Gorman and Denser sustained injuries near the end of the first half. They were playing with an intensity matched by few other City players. 1-0 at the end of the first half! While the City players were not thrillled with their performance, nobody was too worried either. In retrospect, this might have been our undoing.

The first ten minutes of the second half continued in the same vein as the first half. Both teams played neat if not always incisive football, and neither looked like running away with the game. During one spell of Fritz Air pressure, in clearing the ball Harley made contact with a Fritz Air player. The referee somewhat harshly decided this was a penalty and after this was duly converted, Fritz Air scented victory. With no substitutes available, City still looked solid but hardly imposing. Fritz Air used four substitutes and now often looked a little sharper than the opposition. They maintained a good tempo and kept the City defence on their toes. City had some good pressure of their own at times, but as Calvert said didn’t play the final ball quickly enough. With only seven or eight minutes to go, a hopeful punted free-kick from Fritz Air found a Taiwanese head and now it looked like City were heading for defeat! But with just four minutes to go, Ramirez yet again proved his worth by winning a penalty. Up stepped Murphy to put it away.

Taipei City 2, Fritz Air 2

In summary, City didn’t play anywhere near their best but still deserved at least a draw. Ed Cartee stood out on the day for his consistent speed of ideas. Everybody needs to be better if they are to do themselves justice against Fritz next week.

City Make Light Work of Air

On a cold morning,Taipei City engaged with a depleted Fritz Air team. The kick-off was put back thirty minutes to allow enough Fritz Air players to get out of bed. This was frustrating for City given that everybody had assembled right on time. Dawda led an excellent warm-up at 9.45, but the game started at about 10.30. When the game finally started, City fielded an exceptionally strong eleven against a team of eight. The starting line-up was Matt Wharton in goal; a back four of John Philips, Tim Murphy, Yunusa Njie and Ross Conlon; Ed Cartee and Steve Reymond on the left and right flanks, with Mike O’Gorman and Ebou Njie in centre midfield; and, Badou Njie and Dawda Fatty up front. The new, experimental formation was looking for a real test, which the opposition didn’t really provide. Nevertheless, to their credit City took the game seriously and played well from the whistle.

With only eight players for the first twenty or so minutes, Fritz Air defended en masse, blocking out space in their own penalty box where they were happy to sit.  City piled on the pressure looking to get the goals, but needed some time to warm up properly again themselves (having waited half an hour after their pre-match warm-up). Pinned back, Fritz Air were obviously waiting and hoping for their team-mates to arrive. Ironically, in the course of the first half as more Fritz Air players turned up City just kept getting better. The first half saw great goals from Yunusa, Tim and two from Badou. With the score 4-0 at half-time, City were satisfied.

The second half saw Alex Ramirez come on for Mike in midfield and Matt Wharton moved out to defence to replace Ross with the arrival of regular keeper Dale Neal.  Later, Christie came on for Ebou. Fritz Air scored a quick goal but then City very quickly scored some more. One of the best goals ever scored by a City player was a Dawda chip over the head of the diminutive Fritz Air goalkeeper. The ball literally sailed into the top of the net. Then, a little later, an equally memorable goal was scored by Badou, who fabulously tackled a Fritz Air defender desperately trying to clear and saw the resulting ball somehow curl into the top left hand corner. At this point, Fritz Air knew this wasn’t their day.

The game finished at 10-2, a comfortable victory for City. Now the real challenge is to come.

Taipei City ground Fritz Air

On a surprisingly cloudy day, Taipei City assembled a surprisingly small squad to give Fritz Air a surprisingly good game. Played on Bai Ling B, the surface was uneven in places but still allowed for good football.

With several defensive specialists missing, the Taipei City starting line-up looked attack top-heavy. The biggest shock saw Dan Calvert play as the sweeper. (Yes, that’s Dan Calvert playing as the sweeper!) With the ever-reliable Sam in goal and John and Christie either side, the defence was by no means weak. Canadian Olly in his first game for City was holding midfielder in front of Ebu and Paco. Alex and Steve were the wing-backs on the left and right, all aiming to feed Dawda and Gustavo up front.

After the first ten minutes settling into the game, the first half saw City play some of the best football the side has played in a long time. There was a lot of fluidity in midfield, with Canadian Olly always in the right place to take the ball and dictate the play from deep. His ability to flight diagonal balls was very important. Ebu and Paco were also a joy to watch going forward with their close control and neat passes. Their runs and short passes to Gustavo and Dawda caused no end of problems for Fritz Air. The sharpness of the front two enabled them to latch on to just about every loose ball, as well.

From a tactical point of view, what was most satisfying about this first-half performance was the width utilized. Alex and Steve frequently received the ball from the centre and so they were able to make clear openings into the Fritz Air back line. The passing was snappy and City looked a notch superior to the opposition. Paco scored twice and Gustavo once in the first half. The City back line contained most threats well enough, except for the time when their best player was not closed down quickly enough when he shot and so scored. City deservedly went into the break 3-1 up.

Knowing that they needed to fight their way back into the match, Fritz Air came out sharper in the second half. They succeeded in putting City under more pressure although City still had pressure ourselves. The difference was that now the two sides seemed to be playing at the same level. City held their shape and defended doggedly. It was now that Dan, John and Christie did more work. Fritz Air were able to feed the ball to their forward line quick but the City defence didn’t rush in and so the midfield had time to run back and help out. The work-rate of the two wing-backs, Alex and Steve, was particularly impressive at this time.

After a few close shaves, Fritz Air finally succeeded in getting a goal with about twenty minutes on the clock. Now it was 3-2 and the situation had changed. Creditably, City didn’t panic but continued to work openings. Perhaps the threat was a spur to the City attack, because City now played more tidily. Cometh the hour, cometh Paco to complete another hat-trick! Danny came on for his debut replacing Gustavo late in the game and played well. At the final whistle, Dan and Ross had every reason to feel pleased with the performance – isn’t that right, lads?

Photos courtesy of www.taiwanfootball.tv


Overlooking the pitch and river.


Gustavo accelerates


Paco and Michael Christie


Dawda Fatty winds up for a shot

Fritz Air No Match for Taipei City

Coming into the game after a surprising loss to the Red Lions, Taipei City had to muster up a fighting spirit to defeat Fritz Air. Final score 4-0 for Taipei City with goals coming from Dan Calvert, Gustavo Lopez, Chris Grimaud, and Spencer Pangborn.

Lining up against the air shipping division of the Fritz Company

Gustavo Lopez and the 2-0 scoreboard

Dawda makes a pass forward