Tag Archives: Hong Min Bulien

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:

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 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.

Calvert fires City to Opening Day Victory

Time: 10am, November 1, 2009
Venue: Bai Ling Bridge Riverside Park

Conditions: Wet

By Michael Christie

With an excellent squad assembled for the 2009/2010 BML season, the management team of Dan Calvert and Ross Conlon had a difficult job naming a starting eleven for the opening game. They decided on Dale Neal in goal, a three-man defence of Tim Murphy, Yunusa Njie and Matt Wharton, with Steven Raymond and Ross Conlon on the flanks. In the centre, City played a three-man midfield of Ebrima Njie, Mike O’Gorman and Spencer Pangborn, with Alex Ramirez in the hole behind Dan Calvert leading the line. This was the first time in the history of Taipei City FC that two brothers started a BML game together. Congratulations to Yunusa and Ebrima!

As soon as the game began, City took the ball to the Bulien penalty area–where it remained most of the time. Five minutes into the game, though, a speculative long ball from Bulien forced Dale to charge off his line. With unmatchable confidence, he caught the ball and held it to his chest, and then stood there an age, seeming to bask in the effortless superiority of his goalkeeping. That was until the referee awarded the opposition a free kick–because Dale was at least five yards outside the penalty box! The resulting deflected free kick found its way into the TCFC net, making it 1-0 to Bulien.

The response from City was swift. Bulien predictably fell back into their own half and looked to catch City on the break. But now, and for the rest of the match, it was all City. The City players on the field in the first half have all played much better in the past and didn’t do much to add to their reputations. That said, they were still far too strong for the returning Bulien side. City stuck to the game plan throughout: closing down Bulien in their own half, and passing the ball patiently across the park looking for an opening in the Bulien defence. City’s hunt for a goal finally ended when Calvert finished from a nice left-wing cross after a flowing move to level. Ed Cartee duly came on for Conlon, who is still recovering from a year on the sidelines with knee problems. It was 1-1 at half-time. More goals would have been nice, but City had successfully dominated the half.

Fifteen minutes into the second half, Ramirez made way for Badou Njie. Not long after, Calvert finished from a Pangborn pass to put City ahead. With the lead established, Pangborn made way for Michael Christie to maintain the pressure and close Bulien down before they could mount any attacks. Essentially, each of the substitutions was like for like, and there was simply no let-up for Bulien. Calvert somehow managed to steal a goal from Ebrimha to complete a dubious hat-trick and, sated with his goals, came off for Dawda Fatty. Wharton made way for John Phillips and, moments later, the full-time whistle was blown. City had shown itself to be a lot tougher to break down than last season, with O’Gorman proving a solid anchor in front of the defence.

The Calvert-Conlon combo has assembled a superior squad, but nothing has been proven yet. The first game is won. Job done on Sunday, that’s all.