It had all the makings of just another weekend of BML football, but ended up being a historical moment in time for the Red Lions. After a good session at Carnegies for the end of season/beginning of season CPL party on Saturday, the late kick off was welcome for the Lions, and a strong squad assembled at the
Taipei Equestrian Club Bai Ling Bridge pitch.
Soon to be ex-captain Rooney started the squad off with a 3-5-2 formation, playing deep as the speed of the opposition was well known. Bulian aka Hong Min knew that with City beating Dentway, they needed a win to keep in the race for the BML title. The referee and linesmen were fully aware of this as well, and even Mr Jong, beloved leader of the BML organisation committee, was there, a smug grin on his face. It was almost as if he knew something, although it is not for your humble scribe to make false accusations about result rigging.
From the off, Bulian played possession football with the Lions chasing and closing down quickly. But every single time a Bulian player shouted “Ai!” after being slightly touched by a Red Lion, the referee would blow his whistle for a foul. Every single time. Fouls against the Red Lions, however, were waved on, the referee playing advantage. For Bulian.
Red Lions attackers were constantly in an offside position yet Bulian only had one offside call against them all game. Another strange outcome of a game where any neutral might think that perhaps there was a little bias towards the team in blue. Other, not quite so neutral onlookers, might even have thought the referee should actually just have pulled on a blue jersey so to avoid any doubt to the situation.
The first clear cut chance of the game came when all players – including the Bulian attacker – thought that an offside call would come, but the hesitation allowed the Lions keeper to come off his line and flap the ball to relative safety. The danger signs were there, but the Lions once more failed to heed them.
Shortly afterwards, a blatant goal kick was given as a corner to Bulian, and after taking 2 deflections off Lions players, then hitting the crossbar, the ball finally went in off Fowler’s shoulder for 1-0 to
the referee Bulian. Fowler made a good stop from a one on one situation shortly afterwards to stop the opposition from extending their lead. In a day of strange scenarios, his kicking also went fairly well, with not one goal kick going astray. One kick even made it to the half way line. An investigation is on-going.
There were some good combinations on the right wing with Ant, Christian, Thomas and Bryan playing well together with some good, intertwined passing movements, and on the left, Matt and James connected well with Solidarnosc Captain Candidate Rob. But as so often in these situations, the linesman had his flag up one second before the final ball had been played, the Polack being caught offside on more than one occasion.
Despite good chasing from Thomas and OG – who tirelessly ran after every ball – the opposition were able to get a second when Ant made a small amount of contact inside the box with the Bulian attacker who went down faster than the Polack, shouting “Ai!” and of course, the penalty was awarded. Fowler knew where it was going, alas was so fecking slow, he arrived about 2 seconds after the ball had hit the back of the net. 2-0 to
the referee Bulian.
But the Lions were not out of it at all – and Bryan up front had a couple of good opportunities and perhaps should have done better with both, shooting straight at the keeper. With a 2 goal cushion, it is surely merely coincidence that the referee now let the game flow just a little, and even blew his whistle for fouls on the Lions. With a little impartiality in the game, it was the Lions who finished the half on top, and at half time, Rooney quite correctly stated that the game was still there for the taking.
The second half saw the introduction of Logan in midfield, Bryan switching to the back to introduce Mora up front with the Polack. Kim Sun Il came on for Charles in central defence, Clovissimo on for Matt and Bulian were looking like they did not care, did not want to play any more. The Lions though were hungry for some justice, and from kick off showed more fight than their opposition. Bryan, with another trade mark diagonal 60 metre pass found Mora who went on a mazey run and was unlucky not to come away with more than a corner. Indeed, a succession of Lions corners added to the pressure, and a goal was surely on the cards.
Fred had replaced Christian on the left wing – and has been given a ban from returning to Sweden, his lack of form since returning from his homeland visibly apparent. Some minutes in, and the Lions salvaged some hope with a fairly scrappy goal, the Polack slotting home under the keeper in what looked like a goalmouth scramble from where your humble chronicler was standing. 2-1 and it was game on. Except for the fact that now, the slight impartiality from the referee disappeared, and again all calls of”Ai” from a Bulian player ended up in a foul against the Lions.
Despite the Lions attack, there was a lack of penetration and pressure on the goalkeeper, bringing desperate measures to the Polack, who tried the most blatant of dives in the penalty area, more blatant than Mora on his worst day, play being waved on, the Lions not registering any complaint on that.
And half way through the second half, a foul on a Lions player was given as a foul on a Bulian player by the referee in
blue yellow and despite being closely guarded by Clovis, the attacker got in a powerful volley which just avoided Fowler in goal to secure the three points. Classy – a refereeing hat-trick. No more slackness would follow from the referee, which incensed some members of the Red Lions followers.
And indeed on the same day that the Red Lions voted for their first African captain (and congratulations go to Chancy – more later!) so his better half stole the limelight for a while, with a verbal onslaught that may just have suggested to the referee that there was a very slight possibility that he was a cheating cunt. An exchange of points of view then followed, with the referee deciding that he was not going to lose face to some girl, thus sending her off from the touchline, bringing her the first ever Red Lions Alex Ferguson award.
Clovis made one good tackle, but then got cocky, trying to control the ball with his arse, failing miserably, and making himself look like a complete twat. Majo was introduced to see out the game, alongside Alex who replaced the Polack.
From one good cross from Mora on the left, Alex rose like a Panda on a salmon diet, and failed completely to make contact with the ball. In fact, despite the ball being crossed at a nice height, Panda hardly left the ground at all. Panda also had another good opportunity shortly afterwards to redeem himself, but shot straight at the keeper (or it may have been over the bar – either way, it wasn’t a goal) when he had the goal at his mercy.
referee opposition saw out the rest of the game in typical fashion, not offsides and no fouls being blown for offsides and fouls respectively, deservedly winning him the man of the match award from Bulian’s point of view. It was indeed a performance that was worthy of a very fat Hong Bao, and interestingly enough, the referee was seen after the game with his wallet open, counting his money. But of course, this is surely merely coincidence.
The game though goes down in history with Bonnie being the first Red Lions WAG to be sent off and therefore also fined a round of beers. It will be interesting to see what sort of punishment is received from the BML.