The Red Lions qualified for the play-offs before even kicking off thanks to San Chong beating JAS 3-1 on – yes – a nippy day at Bai Ling
pony club pitch B. And with that, complacency set in to the Lions. Knowing that there was nothing, in essence, to play for, the Lions forgot how to play and instead made these 3 points very difficult for themselves.
Despite many people absent, a full team assembled on time with expectations on debutant Bryan to see if he could bring some of the magic he produces at training on to the pitch. For the record, the starting line up was a back 4 comprising of the usual suspects: Hemingay, Sunil, Charles and Matt (from right to left), with James and Christian manning the wings, and Logan and Barras in the middle. Up front, thanks to the tardiness of the Minister of Propaganda, Mora and Bryan. Your humble scribe was between the sticks.
But from the start it was Fen Ching who showed a little bit more hunger, with one cheeky tosser trying to lob Fowler from 40 metres, the Lions keeper backpedalling and keeping the ball out of the net, but with no Lion chasing back for the rebound, everyone had to rely on the hope that the attacker was shit, and would miss the free shot on goal. He was, and he did.
The game was riddled with mistakes, and all those crisp, crunchy samosa triangles that worked so well the previous weekend against JAS went desperately wrong this time. The Lions passing was way too short which meant some last minute, long clearances away from trouble. But despite the poor performance, the Lions were not without chances. And from one such opportunity the Lions went ahead, with Mora breaking his goalless drought with a nice finish on a one-on-one.
Shortly after it was 2-0, Logan and James combining on the left wing before putting a nice ball for Bryan to run on to and score on his first ever appearance in the red and white stripes. For scoring on the debut: round owed. This – the Lions believed – was going to be an easy game, and perhaps even more arrogance entered the Lions game. Logan was yellow-carded for a tackle from behind, as was Mora (if your chronicler remembers correctly). And some seriously slack defending gave Fen Ching the ball with the attacker sprinting in to the area on to a low pass which Howler had to come out well to collect.
But with very little else to report, half time came, no real pressure felt by the Lions. Rooney’s half time talk was minimal, no one really feeling that they had to make a performance, no one showing the desire and commitment to go out and kill off the game. And 3-0 would probably do just that.
The second half showed Fen Ching with more belief, and the Lions with more complacency. Endless passes failed to meet their marks, the Lions not able to find any fluidity, and any attacks fizzled in to nothing.
Several substitutions were made – Majo, Polack and Fred were brought on, Fred replacing the injured Christian who limped off, helped by Matt and Majo, the referee not bothering to wait until the other two players were back on the pitch before waving play on for a Lions corner which alas came to nothing.
At the back, Matt and Charles tried to play their way out of trouble, with Matt giving the ball straight to the attacker who went past Fowler, but the shot was blocked on the line. From the rebound came another shot, which too was blocked. Then the third shot whizzed in to make it 2-1, and it looked like it was game on.
Shortly after this, Sunil tried to get his own back on Fowler’s call a few weeks previously by calling one long Fen Ching shot “wide”, Fowler palming the ball away, and then knocking it off for a corner under a challenge from the attacker. And then whining and doing some kind of morris-dancing knee-slap because he thought he had been impeded. Fined a round. End of. Sunil also fined a round for that terrible call.
The Lions were able to put the game to bed though, 15 minutes from the final whistle with a good goal from Barras who was one of the better Lions in the game. The winning goal brought more relief than anything else and that was also the end of the Fen Ching challenge, as they had absolutely nothing left. This sort of Lions performance is not going to be good enough if we play like that in the play-offs. As all the teams that we will be meeting have beaten us in the regular season, the team will have to step up several levels if we’re going to compete.
Thankfully we all know the Lions are capable of much better, and there’s nothing we like better than
getting pissed up at Carnegies a challenge. Next up – the grudge match vs City. COME ON LIONS!
And finally, Chairman Mao has come up with an interesting one. Chancy and Rooney both said the game was boring to watch, so all those not fined a round have to buy Rooney and Chancy a beer.
The Polack is fined an additional round for being the only Lions attacker not to score a goal today.
The State has spoken.