“Players lose you games, not tactics. There’s so much crap talked about tactics by people who barely know how to win at dominoes.”
Two lucky goals, including one of the freakiest mis-hit crosses you are ever likely to see, brought about the demise of the Red Lions in Sunday’s early morning CPL kick off. Despite a full squad arriving on time, once more with the exception of Fred who does not display any efficient time keeping capabilities, the Lions lacked a certain bite, that certain passion to beat the old enemies.
Not even the return of Brutus “Tim” Brown after seven months of exile could bolster the troops as the Lions tasted their first defeat under the new leadership of Captain “Oh Captain my Captain” Cooke. Right from kick off the Lions gave the ball away, and in his first piece of action, if you can call it that, Clovis mis-timed his jump as the ball sprung over his head in to the path of the Scum attacker.
Playing an attacking 4-3-3 formation, the Lions defence saw an unfamiliar face in Volker to bolster the troops. Having said that, your humble chronicler did not even realise that the Lions were playing 4 in the back until half time when it was announced that we would be keeping the 4-3-3 formation.
One Animals player – I believe it was Oumar – was shown a yellow card for a tackle from behind, and followed it up with a few more tackles of similar ilk, in an attempt to be sent off, and have an excuse to go and drink some of the 50 beers that Brutus “Tim” Brown had brought with him. The referee however figured that if he was not allowed to drink beer, then no one else was going to, so the repeated unfair tackles were simply blown as fouls.
James, Brutus and Christian all took turns on the wings, with Chancy, Mike, Fred and Maio rotating in midfield. Clovis, Charles, Volker, Matt and Mark all played their parts in the defensive line and Panda cut a solitary figure, especially in the first half, up front. Mao was in goal.
And as if to epitomise the day, it was indeed the Lions keeper who – remembering how an opponent kept a long cross in from the by-line a few weeks back – tipped a floating free kick off for a corner when leaving it would have been the better option. From the resulting corner, the Lions were under pressure, finally clearing after Chancy hoofed it upfield.
The Scum’s first goal came in the most fortuitous of circumstances. With Clovis having 2 men to mark, the Lions coverage of their opponents not working well at all, the free man got the ball on the wing and whipped in a cross, which was totally mis-hit and, despite having the wind behind it, had so much spin on it that it dipped quite spectacularly over Mao’s statuesque pose, and in to the net for a hardly undeserved 1-0 lead.
A lot of pressure was now being exerted on the Lions defence with a series of corners being whipped in, Chancy and Volker clearing most of them, and at the opposite end, a foul was blown against the Panda as he went up against the Scum’s keeper in what looked to your humble scribe as a fair challenge.
As the half went on, the Scum looked the more dangerous team, picking up on the Lions’ mistakes in midfield and quickly breaking. And right on the stroke of half time, the Scum almost made it 2-0 as the Lions failed to clear the 18 yard box, and a rasping shot was saved by Fowler who was for once well placed to palm it clear. And as the ball went off for what possibly should have been a corner, the ref blew for half time.
The second half saw more of the same, although a little more shape was maintained, the defenders covering a little better. However the game was getting niggly as the Lions showed their frustration, giving away a barrage of fouls in dangerous positions, most of which were handled well by a combination of Charles, Chancy and Volker, although the latter was once comprehensively beaten by Dao Dao whose header went wide and high, much to the relief of the Lions team.
The Lions were trying to put a string of passes together in order to service Panda a little better, and at 1-0 they knew that the games was still on. But 2-0 was looking ominous, and so it happened as the aforementioned Scum attacker took a shot which deflected off one Lion to trickle in to the net, past the keeper who was unsighted (at least, that is his excuse).
And for a few minutes, that seemed to deflate the Lions, the Scum now able to relax, the game seemingly won for them. More poor tackles were made by the Lions defence around the edge of the box, Mao again well placed to hold a firm header by Oumar on goal.
The Scum also thought that they had scored once more a few minutes later, although the ref correctly saw that Dao Dao was impeding the Lions keeper as the ball flew in to the net. Despite the Scum’s calls for the goal to stand, the ref had decided it was off-side and the player was interfering with play.
To quote aforementioned Brian Clough once more: he was on the pitch. Of course he was interfering with play.
With time running out, the Lions mounted an attack with the Panda getting his best chance of the game, the Scum keeper nowhere near the ball as Panda drove it hard and low, only to see the ball come off the post. Brutus “Tim” Brown was the first to react, and delivered a cross to the far post where Christian had an empty net to aim his header at. Yet his timing for his jump was as mistimed as Clovis’ in the first half, and the ball went over the bar, much to the relief of the Scum players.
But the Lions set up a frantic final few minutes as Mao hoofed the ball up field, route 1 style, and after a couple of good passes to feet, the ball found its way to James who cut inside his defender, and took a sweet shot which evaded the Scum keeper to make it 2-1.
Alas time was not on the Lions’ side as there were no more chances for either side, the Lions falling to their first defeat of the season.
Brutus “Tim” Brown’s failure to bring Sapporo beers (as was agreed to in the negotiation for his return between Brown and Mao) was duly noticed by the Politburo, and so he is expected to bring said beers to the next game.
With the Bangkok tournament taking place next weekend, the Lions have a 2 week break (at least) before the next game.
Your humble narrator will finish with one more Cloughie quote – as the Lions are trying hard to develop their ball to feet game:
If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he’d have put grass up there.