Tag Archives: CTFA

City Finish In Style

Time: 3pm, May 27th, 2012

Venue: Bai Ling Bridge Riverside Park

By Michael Christie

Were the celebrations following Taipei City’s draw against Bulien premature? Had Taipei City clinched the title or was it going to be taken away at the last? Following Fritz’s victory over the Red Lions on Thursday evening, Taipei City needed a draw or win to win the BML title outright on points in the last round of the 2011-12 season, against Fritz. Determined not to have to rely on superior goal difference (and also, just in case Taipei City turned up with less than eight players, the rules stipulated that three points would be docked from City’s final points tally), some of the players went to extraordinary lengths, traveling from as far afield as Taichung, to play in this one. Sadly, for some of City’s finest this would be their final game in a City shirt (with the proviso that you are always welcome back any time).

The rain the previous evening had softened up the surface but luckily the ‘good’ pitch was available again. Most of the 2011-12 Taipei City players had said they would be available for this game, so Dan was faced with the right kind of managers’ problem – which eleven to start out of fourteen good players.  However, at 3pm Taipei City had only ten men. Karim’s motorcycle had broken down so he had to get a taxi, while Dale could only make it for 3.30pm. So the starting team was Matt Wharton in goal, Spencer Pangborn, making a welcome return, at right back, Tom Clarke and Paul Brown (another City player making a come-back) at centre back, and Luis Mayorga at left back; in midfield, Alex Ramirez was in right midfield, Michael Christie and Karim Cham were in the middle, and Omar Malcolm was on the left; and up front were Neo King and Dan Calvert.

Watch the highlights here:

Possibly seeing that an 8-0 victory was beyond them, Fritz played at a pedestrian pace and allowed City to push up field and put them under pressure. The first City goal came courtesy of a fine move down the right. Alex released Neo down the right flank and his low cross was received by Dan, whose touch, turn and shot in the six yard box beat everybody. For the rest of the first half City put pressure on Fritz and while Fritz occasionally broke out they posed no threat to the City defence. Spencer, Tom, Paul and Luis were all in fine form. Unluckily, in the last ten minutes a Fritz breakaway move reached the penalty box and City conceded a penalty. The penalty was tucked away and so City and Fritz went in level at half-time.

By now, Dale Neal, Brian McGuinness, Ricardo Abrego and Brian Fitzpatrick had arrived and were itching to get on. At half-time Luis and Paul came off, Dale came in between the posts allowing Matt Wharton to move to left-back and Brian to go in central defence.

The second half began with City parrying some decent moves by Fritz and creating some chances of their own. With ten minutes gone, Christie made way for Fitzy, who took up the left midfield position. This meant Ramirez came into central midfield to partner Karim, while Malcolm moved to right midfield. The new midfield kept a tight formation and gained a stranglehold on the game which they never relinquished.

Now the goals came flying in fast. First, after some good work by Neo on the left, Karim belted a shot in off the underside of the bar. Next, Neo found enough space to shoot from outside the box, and the ball flew past the keeper’s outstretched fingers. Not to be outdone, Dan claimed the next two goals, both consummate finishes to win his hat-trick. While the goals were going in, Spencer came off, having played an excellent game. for Ricardo. And, last of all, Neo bagged another goal to make the final score 6-1. Was this flattering to City?

At 3-1 down and with twenty minutes to go, Fritz possibly lost a little heart. Nevertheless, City pushed up well and got the ball to Ramirez and Fitzpatrick on the flanks. Their service was good so City could actually have had more than six.

At the final whistle, City came away with four trophies. Two individual accolades went to Dan Calvert – best coach and golden boot – while defence legend Tom Clarke won the league MVP.  And, of course, Taipei City lifted the BML trophy.

Taipei City FC 6 – 1 Fritz


City Fight to the Draw

Time: 3pm, May 20th, 2012

Venue: BaiLing Bridge Riverside Park

By Michael Christie

A single point would be enough to claim a third BML Championship, but against Bulien anything might happen and what a day for a football match! On a waterlogged pitch fit only for crabs, ducks and other wildlife, Taipei City took on an old bete noire in an ugly-tempered game. The weather, pitch and the football were all equally ugly. (The only thing uglier was the refereeing, but that was past ugly!) The first half was a drab affair of punts and high balls in the air. City had two goals disallowed. The first was probably an off-side, but the second, which came from a free-kick and got a headed deflection off a Bulien defender, and which was finished expertly by Luis Mayorga with a chest and volley, was probably not. Anyway, 0-0 at half-time was a fair assessment of the game.

Mamadi Colley came on for Matt Wharton at half-time. In the second half, with some new energy needed, Michael Christie, Luis Mayorga and Oscar Auguilera made way for Brian Fitzpatrick, Dan Calvert and Neo King. The rearranged team had new impetus but it was Bulien who got the benefit of the linesman’s doubt when their forward picked up on a high lob from deep over the City defence. It was very clearly off-side but City’s otherwise excellent defence made the mistake of not following him into the penalty area, where he took the ball down and knocked it past Dale. Is it true that a setback is needed to bring out one’s true character?

Watch Bulien’s goal here:

It was at 1-0 down that City finally showed their true mettle. The tackles were harder and the pressure was now on Bulien, who defended deep. City won corners and sent everybody up. What scrambles! It was from a corner that the ball came out to Tom Clarke about ten yards out. He hooked the ball into the six yard box where Calvert got a foot to it. Was this 1-1? No! The linesman’s flag was up and in spite of the arguments from City that Bulien had had two men on the post throughout the proceedings a goal it was not destined to be.

Have a look at the video evidence here and judge for yourself…

City showed real grit to pick themselves up and keep going for goal. The last twenty minutes were really replete with drama. Bulien nearly won a penalty when their winger was upended near the corner post. (The linesman needed to intercede for City on this one. The ref had already pointed to the spot.) And, Alex Ramirez again had an altercation with the tallest Bulien player. (And again Alex came away satisfied!) These were just a few of the many memorable incidents that City can look back on. At last,  from a Weir throw in, the ball was knocked on by Calvert to the back post where Clarke managed to get a toe to it. 1-1! And this time it was (allowed to stand as) a goal! The final whistle blew not long after and every City player tramped off the field with a mixture of righteous indignation and vindication. City deserved a victory for their storming last twenty minutes but a draw was enough to secure the BML Championship.

Watch Tom’s late goal here:

City Prevail in Weekend Double Header

Venue: Bai Ling Bridge Riverside Park

By Michael Christie

Two games in two days is not recommended for a footballer’s health or for his play, yet, with four games left to play and firmly seated in the driver’s seat with all eyes on the prize of the BML Title, that was what was required of Taipei City against the rookie boys of San Chung High School on Saturday, May 12th and against the redoubtable Red Lions on Sunday, May 13th.

Saturday’s Kids Test City– Raw

The teenagers of San Chung are maturing all the time and proved it by givingTaipeiCity a stiff test. For seventy minutes San Chung held City to 1-1. Indeed, the boys passed the ball effectively and made City run hard. The game seemed to be heading for a draw until, with twenty minutes to go, substitute Luis Mayorga came on and immediately stamped his presence on the game. With his trademark mixture of guile and speed he snaffled his first goal on eighty minutes and then decided one was not enough so scored again to make the final score a flattering 3-1 to City.

Sunday’s Lions Test City– Roar

The Lions had a few of their players unavailable but still came to win the game – if they could. The first half was a leaden display from both teams, with neither team really deserving to score. However, after some sloppy play in the middle of the park from City, the Lions fed the ball to their right winger. He attempted a cross but got a lucky slice and the ball looped over the stranded Dale into the net. City pulled one back later through Neo King. It was 1-1 at the break.

The second half started off as drearily as the first, but with half an hour gone Oscar Auguilera came on to make his long awaited debut for City – what a difference he made! His first touch and incisive running was enough to create several chances for his team-mates. City looked like a good team again. Through a combination of wasteful finishing and good keeping from the Lions’ Volker, however, City couldn’t score. With only five minutes left on the clock, though, Oscar fed Neo through the middle and with that finish parried by the keeper and rolling into touch for a corner, Oscar showed magical pace to slide – a two-second, three-yard slide – and jab the ball into the net from the tightest of angles. 2-1 to City!

Fritz Exact a Draw

Time: 5pm, March 25th, 2012

Venue: Bai Ling Bridge Riverside Park

By Michael Christie

Two games of football in the space of twenty-four hours is a punishing schedule no matter what level of the game you play. If Fritz was going to get a result against Taipei City, this was a good opportunity. A few important players were missing, including Alex Ramirez and Omar Senoussi, as the Taipei City players gathered at Bai Ling on an exceptionally warm afternoon. Still, Taipei City put together a strong squad and Dan named a 4-4-2 of Dale Neal in goal; Ricardo Abrego, Brian McGuinness, Tom Clarke and Mamadi Colley at the back; Danny Weir, Karim Cham, Michael Christie and Brian Fitzpatrick in midfield; and Luiz Mayorga and Neao King up front. On the bench were Omar Malcolm, Dan Calvert, Michael Crossley and Danny ‘Dapper’ Wilkinson.

The new look Fritz had enough old veterans to be recognizable as Fritz but benefitted from some fresh faces. Playing a patient passing game, Fritz had control of the game in the opening exchanges. With the ability to pass neatly around the back, Fritz gave the City players the runaround. The City defense, as so often, was strong enough to cope when Fritz launched long balls into the channels, thanks to good pace and anticipation. However, the City forward line and midfield did not seem able to defend as a unit. Possibly this was because Fritz always had somebody spare in midfield, and possibly because City wasn’t enjoying a good day.

Up front, Luis and Neao were swamped. When Fritz had the ball they worked hard but were easily bypassed, and when City had the ball they lacked good service. On the flanks both Brian Fitzpatrick and Danny Weir struggled to get into the game, while in the centre Karim was strong but Christie was often getting overrun. So much for the first twenty-five minutes!

Fritz often had time and space to play crosses into the box and after a sustained spell of pressure they had their reward when a high ball fell for one of their poachers up front. 1-0 to Fritz!

With about fifteen minutes in the half left, Dan made a double substitution. He decided to bring Omar Malcolm on for Brian Fitzpatrick and himself on for Luis Mayorga. The new arrivals instilled some energy into City and finally City put some pressure on Fritz. A deep cross from Mamadi was met on the volley by Neao who lashed the ball into the opposite corner. This was a really powerful pile-driver. Did the ball get a touch from anybody, a City or Fritz player, as it whizzed into the net? Perhaps it shaved a few hairs. City was now level. The final ten minutes of the first half was much more enjoyable for City.

Deciding on no changes to start the second half, City kept up the pressure on Fritz for the first fifteen minutes or so. Karim, enjoying an excellent game, supplied a nice pass to Malcom who crossed well for Dan to jump and head over the keeper, and now City was 2-1 up and the double substitution was having the desired impact!

Christie, plainly tiring, was relieved by Michael Crossley and that was it for City substitutions on the day. However, Fritz was still able to make substitutions and continued playing a close, cagey game. Fritz has always been able to finish games strongly (it is perhaps no coincidence that they have employed German coaches in the past) and with all the City players finally tiring, they ratcheted up the pressure.

Fritz’s best player, their number ten, had frequently got into dangerous positions and when he was put through the City support was nervous. A marvelous tackle from Mamadi appeared to have averted the danger but the number ten got up again quickly, reached the loose ball and went on another little run. He didn’t appear to be scythed but he went down hard and Fritz had a penalty. Converted, it was now 2-2.

There were now about twenty minutes left. City still had enough energy for a few late flurries. Danny Weir, unaccountably stronger the more the match wore on, tore past two Fritz defenders on at least two occasions. And Malcolm, on the other flank, had the strength and guile to reach the byeline a few times. City almost got another goal when Danny Weir fed Dan Calvert on the right flank. Running strongly, Calvert had the pace to roll an excellent cross on the floor behind the defender for Neao in the box. Somehow Neao made up crucial yards to arrive ahead of his markers. Neao’s shot hit the bar.

The last fifteen minutes were desperate for City. Pressing forward en masse, Fritz always had a man spare and kept feeding the ball wide. The defence now had to soak up pressure and could only make the ball safe, which meant giving the ball back to Fritz. It was a relief when the final whistle came.

While the City players were disappointed not to have kept the historic winning streak going, two games in the space of twenty-four hours is no mean achievement, and the fact that Taipei City emerged unbeaten is proof of the players’ resilience. Taipei City will want to resume normal service next week.

Cushty against Mitsukoshi

Time: 7pm, March 24th, 2012

Venue: Bai Ling Bridge Riverside Park

By Michael Christie

In unseasonably cold weather, Taipei City took on Mitsukoshi in the first game of the weekend double-header. Rightly concentrating on the here and now, Dan Calvert asked his squad before kick-off to forget about Fritz the next day and just do their best to beat Mitsukoshi, a team capable of surprises. Dan named a 4-4-2 formation of Dale Neal in goal; Ricardo Abrego, Brian McGuinness, Tom Clarke and ‘Dapper’ Danny Wilkinson at the back; Danny Weir, Ebu Njie, debutant Michael Crossley and Omar Malcolm in midfield; and, Brian Fitzpatrick and Dan Calvert up front. On the bench were Luis Mayorga, Oumar Senoussi, Karim Chan and Michael Christie.

The first twenty minutes belonged to City, with two quick goals. The first goal came courtesy of Danny Weir intercepting a wayward Mitsukoshi pass in midfield, and carrying and passing the ball at pace to Dan Calvert, who finished coolly running at high speed. The second goal came from Omar Malcolm after sustained pressure. Again Danny Weir caused problems for Mitsukoshi with incisive dribbling down the right flank. He crossed the ball inside to Dan Calvert, who shaped to turn and shoot but slipped. However, with his back to goal Dan Calvert spotted a through channel for Omar Malcolm and back-heeled smartly into the space, about seven yards from the bye-line and eight yards from the goal. Malcolm elected to drill the ball into the opposite corner.

The early 2-0 score-line was the result of an energetic and intelligent all-round display by the City team. In a free role behind perennial lynchpin Dan Calvert, Brian Fitzpatrick found space and orchestrated several attacks. Making his debut, Michael Crossley was composed and crisp, working well with Ebu, who showed with his zest in attack why Taipei City is always better when he’s around. On the flanks, Danny Weir and Omar Malcolm were both in great form. Needless to say, all the defenders joined in the flowing passing, when they weren’t walking around with the Mitsukoshi forwards in their pockets. (Actually, Mitsukoshi’s Johnson is always a threat, but with Taipei City having so much possession there wasn’t much he could do.)

In truth, City stepped off the accelerator in the last twenty-five minutes of the first half. This meant that Mitsukoshi were able to come forward and sometimes embarrass City a little, but even then City had the lion’s share of possession and Dale was never troubled. Just before half-time Dan Calvert found himself free in the penalty area on the left. In a position where a ball across the face of the goal would have been a better option had there been a City player in position, Dan shot and the ball wriggle between the keeper and the near post. 3-0 at half-time!

At half-time Dan made three straight changes. Off came Danny Weir, Brian Fitzpatrick and Ebu; and on came Luis Mayorga, Omar Senoussi and Karim Chan.

City started the second half with urgency and pressed forward on Mitsukoshi again. Mitsukoshi did not enjoy being pushed back, but without real breakaway chances they had to lump it. As in the first half they occasionally worked some good moves in midfield and created half-chances, but that was all. With about fifteen minutes gone, Brian McGuinness came off for Christie. Karim dropped back into central defence with Tom, so Christie could partner Michael Crossley in central midfield.

The last half-hour of the game was played at a fair if not breakneck pace. City kept control of the game for most of the time. A further goal came from Omar Senoussi, put through by Malcolm (is this right?). And, in the last ten minutes Dan Calvert shot powerfully from outside the box to claim his hat-trick. His shot had enough power to go through the keeper!

Except for an injury worry to Brian McGuinness, this has to go down as a good day for City. 5-0 against a decent Mitsukoshi team, and without any obvious overexertion ahead of the Fritz game the next day, City cannot complain.

Taipei Overcome Toughest Hurdle Yet

Time: 7pm, March 17th, 2012

Venue: Bai Ling Bridge Riverside Park

By Michael Christie

As usual against Hong Ming Bulien, Taipei City did not enjoy the best preparation in the critical hour leading up to the kick-off. Several players struggled to arrive in time, but Taipei City still had a good eleven ready to start, and of course an exceptionally strong bench. The 4-4-2 formation comprised Dale Neal in goal; a back line of Ricardo Abrego, Brian McGuinness, Tom Clarke and Mamadi Colley; a midfield quartet of Danny Weir, Oumar Senoussi, Michael Christie and Omar Malcolm; and a front pairing of Brian Fitzpatrick and Neo King. On the bench were Luis Mayorga, Alex Ramirez and Dan Calvert.

Hong Min Bulien started stronger, testing City with some quick cross-field moves. How would City’s full-backs cope? Luckily, Ricardo and Mamadi revealed themselves to be in excellent form. McGuinness and Clarke also made several important tackles and interceptions during this period. In goal, Dale made some good saves and needed to be sharp. That he didn’t need to make any critical saves was a measure of the defence’s strength under pressure.

The City midfield took some time to get into gear, but after ten minutes managed to start supplying balls to the wide men and forwards, who often troubled the Bulien defence. Neo was pressing for every loose ball and they simply didn’t know how to handle Brian Fitzpatrick, who was finding space at will. Malcolm and Danny Weir were always excellent outlets, and Oumar was always looking to get forward.

Just when the game was taking on the character of a 0-0, Neo closed down a defender, got a touch and chased the loose ball down on goal. His pace enabled him to take it round the goalkeeper’s flailing right arm and then, instead of shooting from a narrow angle, he coolly took the ball inside again and slotted home.

Surprised but possibly not too rattled because City at this point didn’t deserve to be ahead Bulien continued with their passing game. But with some steam in their sails, City now pushed up and put pressure on Bulien. With his back to goal and Bulien defence pushing out en masse, Brian Fitzpatrick hooked a great ball over his shoulder for Neo to run free with on the left flank. Neo got to the bye-line and crossed at the near post for Danny Weir. A last ditch tackle from a Bulien defender blocked his shot and the ball squirmed loose, spinning quickly but moving at a snail’s pace, for Fitzpatrick deservedly to push home from six yards.

Now sensing the urgency of the situation, Bulien tried to play with more pace and aggression. However,TaipeiCitycontained their threat with composure. That is, Dale often needed to make good saves, but Bulien didn’t manage to get any clear chances on goal. The first half, in truth, was an equal contest, soTaipeiCitywas happy to be 2-0 up but well aware that the score at this stage was meaningless.

Dan chose not to make any changes at half-time, but warned the players to be sharp starting the second half. Fortunately, the sharpest players for City in the opening stages of the second half were Dale and the defenders. Bulien somehow found renewed energy and peppered the City goal with shots. Dale pulled off at least two magical saves to deny Hong Min a life line.

With ten minutes of the second half gone, Dan started making changes. First, Brian Fitzpatrick, a candidate for man of the match, made way for Alex Ramirez. Ramirez went to left midfield and Malcolm went to “inside-forward.” Then, a little later, Oumar, after another outstanding game, came off for Luis Mayorga. Mayorga went to left midfield and Ramirez went into central midfield.

With about fifteen minutes gone, Bulien finally got the breakthrough they needed. Having won several corners, their big central defender finally bundled the ball into the net.

If the pressure was intense before, now Bulien turned the screw. For the next five minutes they were all over City. Only some heroics from Dale – a shot from the left wing he pushed onto the bar was particularly memorable – saved City.

When Bulien eased off, City began to create chances again. By now Alex Ramirez was finding openings and weaving between players in his trademark style. He was designated an enemy by Bulien and came in for some fouls but as usual just got more fired up and was more of a threat. Dan Calvert came on for Malcolm, who had been excellent, with twenty-five or so minutes left. Calvert had a great header from a Danny Weir cross saved on the line by Bulien’s able keeper.

The last quarter of the game was quite cagey, with some good chances at both ends. Bulien made several substitutions throughout the game but while on the day they had canniness and speed of thought, they didn’t quite have the speed of foot they needed. Still, they were always dangerous. With just minutes on the clock, a Bulien chip cut open the City defence and one of their very best players was one on one against Dale. Dale came off his line, so the Hong Min Bulian player tried a lob. Luckily, Dale extended his arms and stopped the ball. This was a make or break moment.

Just a few minutes later, Alex Ramirez and Neo worked some triangular passes and when the Bulien keeper saved from Neo, the loose ball fell for Luis who tucked it away.

Possibly this was not a glittering City performance, but it was another triumph for excellent defensive and goal-keeping, with some help from some hard-working and occasionally inspired midfield and forward play.

TaipeiCity FC 3 – 1 Hong Min Bulien

Watch the City goals here…………

City Take the Shine Off the Peacocks

Time: 2pm, March 4th, 2012

Venue: Yingfeng Riverside Park

By Michael Christie

On a bright, hot day at Da Jia Yingfeng Riverside Park, the Taipei City players gathered in readiness for the match against the Taipei Peacocks – on their home turf. The surface was dry and smooth in spite of the damp weather since Chinese New Year. The wind affected the flight of the ball during the game! This was the first day of BML competition in March, and the fixtures are not yet half completed. (That’s seven matches, including this one, played so far out of a scheduled fifteen.)

All the squad had taken the trouble to arrive in good time, so there was a long warm-up before kick-off. The starting eleven was Dale Neal in goal; Matt Wharton at right-back; Brian McGuinness and Tom Clarke in central defence; Mamadi Colley at left-back; Danny Weir at right-midfield; Michael Christie and Alex Ramirez in central midfield; Omar Malcolm at left-midfield; Oumar Senoussi at inside-forward; and, Neao King at centre-forward. “Dapper” Danny Wilkinson, Brian Fitzpatrick, Luis Mayorga and manager Dan Calvert were on the bench.

The first twenty minutes were played at a quick pace, with some clever close passing and skilful individual play from the Peacocks. Playing with confidence, the Peacocks obliged City to make tackles, which were usually successful but not always. The Peacocks were adept at threading play from the back and through the midfield. There were some scares but the City defence was immaculate, so while the Peacocks had considerable skill and pace, Dale was not unduly troubled in goal. There was no doubt that City had a real game on their hands, though.

As the half progressed, City began to come forward with more conviction. This was basically an evenly-matched contest. It has to be admitted that the Peacocks were more often first to the fifty-fifty ball; but City were dogged without the ball and also cagey when in possession. This meant that City sometimes put the Peacocks on the back foot. Proving that he is a gifted performer in all areas, Brian McGuinness often orchestrated passing moves through the middle, and twice narrowly shot wide from just outside the box. Alex Ramirez was also a proverbial thorn in the Peacocks side, regularly shooting on sight. Oumar Senoussi was a handful and Neao King always threatened to get clear. Sensibly, the Peacocks opted to defend deep. Possibly City could have pushed the ball out wide quicker to Omar Malcolm on the left and Danny Weir on the right. Both were on excellent form and both, indeed, hit the side netting, as did Neao King.

For their part, the Peacocks always looked impressive going forward. Still, such was the staunch defending from Matt, Brian, Tom and Mamadi that Dale didn’t need to make a flying save. Dale was noticeably quick and alert coming off his line to snuff out the through ball whenever the Peacocks launched it from deep. He acted decisively a few times, with excellent judgment.

On about thirty minutes, the referee decided to award a penalty to the Peacocks. The decision was marginal, but the referee was certain if nobody else was. Fortunately, Dale looked composed on the line and the Peacock penalty-taker tried to be too precise, with the result that the ball shaved the outside of the post.

There was more end-to-end action to round out the first half but no goals. Both teams went in at half-time knowing that the match could be anybody’s. Dan Calvert addressed the need to get the ball wide quicker, but otherwise commended the team’s efforts and decided on an unchanged eleven to start the second half.

The Peacocks had the kick-off and began the second half with an impudent attempt to beat Dale from the half-way line, straight off. Dale was having none of it, of course. In spite of the heat and pace, both teams kept up a good tempo for the first ten minutes of the second half. With both teams sitting deep when defending, though, it was beginning to look like stalemate.

Trying to inject some fresh legs, Dan had the difficult job of taking off first-rate performers. Dan decided on a series of direct (position for position) substitutions. Firstly, Luis Mayorga came on for Oumar Senoussi. Next, Brian Fitzpatrick filled in for Omar Malcolm. And finally, ‘Dapper’ Danny Wilkinson and Dan Calvert replaced Matt Wharton and Neao King in a double substitution.

The fresh players undoubtedly caused problems for the Peacocks. Luis was nimble and quick, always dangerous, and Fitzpatrick was notably influential in the way he linked up the play. ‘Dapper’ was equally strong in defence and coming forward; his delivery and crossing was first-rate. Not to be outdone, Dan Calvert was a solid focal point in attack.

Alex Ramirez likes to put the cat amongst the pigeons when the opposition tries to play the ball out of defence, and his pressure finally told on the Peacocks when he anticipated and tackled. Wilkinson on the right crossed from deep and caused problems for the Peacocks but they seemed to have regained composure, but Ramirez’s challenge sent the ball loose and into the path of Fitzpatrick approaching from the left, who sent a delightful side-footed chip over the stranded keeper into the far corner of the net. 1-0!

There were now about twenty-five minutes left. In the next fifteen or so minutes, City weathered the storm but hung on. The Peacocks threatened to strike back, including one player who went on a mazy run beating a host of City players, but the City defenders prevented him from getting a clean strike at goal. City worked hard to contain the Peacocks’ attacks, and in the last ten minutes had the satisfaction of seeing the Peacocks noticeably tire. The game was won on a knife-edge. City was perhaps lucky as nobody could have grudged the Peacocks a draw, but… the Peacocks will be hungry for the return fixture.

Taipei City FC 1 – 0 Peacocks

City Pipped at the Post

Time: 6pm, March 19th, 2011
Venue: Bai Ling Bridge Riverside Park

By Michael Christie

With everything to play for, both Taipei City and Hong Ming Bualien lined up to contest the game of the season – the BML final in all but name. Taipei City started with a 4-4-2 formation: Dale Neal in goal, Yunusa Njie at right-back, Ross Conlon at left-back, Brian McGuinness and Tom Clarke in central defense, Carlos Mayorga at right-midfield, Alex Ramirez at left-midfield, Ebrima Njie and Badou Njie in central midfield, and Dawda Fatty and Dan Calvert up front, Dawda in the hole and Dan as the target man. City also had a strong bench, with Kareem Cham, Paul Hsueh, Lionel Gonzalez, Ricardo Abrego, Mamadi Colley, Michael Christie, Luis Mayorga and Oumar Senoussi all ready and waiting.

The opening fifteen minutes were cagey, as both sides sought to establish a viable pattern of play. Taipei City and Hong Ming Bualien both had plenty of possession, and both teams put pressure on the other when without. There were no clear cut chances, though, because neither team was able to dominate in any area of the field.

Hong Ming Bualien, a highly experienced group of players and disciplined team, adopted a flexible formation. Sometimes it was 4-4-2, sometimes 3-5-2 and sometimes 3-6-1. When sitting deep and absorbing pressure, it was either 3-5-2 or 3-6-1. They were able to close down space very quickly in the middle of the park and in their own half. In possession, HMB were crisp and unhurried in their passing, which with their intelligent support play, forced City to work hard doing a lot of running. Still, City was holding their own.

Some rustiness getting into the game from City was noticeable in the first fifteen to twenty minutes. Neither side was able to carve out a really good chance until twenty minutes into the game when a speculative through-ball from HMB was easily read and covered by the City defense. The HMB forward, however, barged McGuinness from the back, and then took advantage of some City honesty – our man didn’t go down – to wriggle past the off-balance defender. The finish was the only credit-worthy thing about the performance. HMB was 1-0 up.

With a lead established, HMB policed the rest of the half. There were some good plays from City but nothing to really test the HMB defense. City simply couldn’t find a way through the mass of bodies HMB had assembled.

Taipei City made one change for the second half. Yunusa came off, Carlos dropped back to right-back and Luis slotted in at right-midfield.  Fiveteen minutes into the second half, Ross made way for Mamadi. Later on, Paul came on for Carlos, Christie came on for Badou and Omar came on for Dawda. Unluckily, Alex was sent off for a second bookable offence. Well, City worked hard but there was still no way through. HMB didn’t threaten very much, but just soaked up pressure and looked to break.

City maintained good pressure until the end, but had to be content with the “might have beens.” There was a lovely run and shot from Dawda, which the keeper just got a finger to. He’d beaten two men and his shot was sailing into the top corner. The keeper had to make a top-class save to keep it out. Then, there was a great penalty box tackle from Oumar. With a little bit more luck that would have been a goal. There was a great shot on the volley from Carlos. He beat the keeper but was inches the wrong side of the post. There were scrambles in the penalty box that HMB only just managed to clear…

Sometimes them’s the breaks.

This was the last game together for many of the players. Yunusa, Dawda, Ebu and Badou, brilliant players who always gave great performances for City, made their bow. You guys will leave a massive void. Ricardo, also, who never had a good chance to shine in a City shirt, and Carlos, who proved a fine addition to the team this year will also graduate in June, so won’t be around next season. Hopefully his brother Luis can stick around and some other players on the fringes this season can step in and help City to regain their title next season. With such a talented squad and a winning ethos, we will always manage to rebuild. Let’s all get together before graduation in June. Actually, there’s a tasty university game involving many of the City players that really shouldn’t be missed. It would be good to cheer on all participants in that one.

Old Grey Fritz Just Aint What They Used to be…

Time: 5pm, March 13th, 2011
Venue: Bai Ling Bridge Riverside Park

By Michael Christie

On a hot, dry Saturday afternoon, City gathered a squad of twelve to take on the once mighty Fritz. In previous seasons, facing Fritz with such a small squad would have been dicing with ignominious defeat, but Fritz are not what they were. (It seems like they’ve gone downhill a lot since last season, never mind from when they were at their peak.)

The pattern of the game was established quite early. City applied pressure high up the field, Fritz tried to clear or play themselves out of trouble but couldn’t and City invariably got back possession. The game wasn’t ten minutes old when Alex Ramirez struck on the edge of the box. With City dominating possession and Fritz making mistakes, City were forcing corners and looking to build on their lead. Next, Tom Clarke spotted a high ball and leapt clear of the Fritz keeper to glance a great header into the corner of the net. 2-0. After this, yet more chances came City’s way. However, owing to some good goalkeeping mostly, City failed to extend their lead. At the half-time team talk, Dan put it well: with the City forward line and midfield applying enough pressure, Fritz were reduced to launching long balls for their forwards but the city defence were winning everything in the air. At the restart, Fritz briefly looked liked threatening, but very soon Dan Calvert had made it 3-0 from a low cross by Ramirez.

After this, Fritz let themselves go. Their one dangerous forward, no.10, got himself sent off for a kick at Ramirez. Then, the fight went from the match and City were able to keep the ball at leisure. The last goal from City was from Lionel Gonzalez – his debut goal – a clinical finish from a narrow angle. Bualien awaits now and surely they will give City a much tougher match than Fritz did.

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.