It has been said that it is better to give than to receive, and the chairmen of both the Red Lions and Da An seemed to be taking these words at face value in the final few minutes of the lunch time game at Da Jia. It may well have been a battle between Chairman Mao and Kim Sun Il, but come the end of the game, mistakes from both must have made them wish the ground would open up so they could hide away.
The Lions once more had a huge squad, with no less than eight subs on the bench, including the return of our beloved Finance Minister, Paddy. Captain Cooke named the starting line up, using wing back defence, 2 central defenders, and five central midfielders, with just the single attacker.
Fred had miraculously turned up on time and was rewarded with a place in the starting line up. Jaime, Barras, Volker, TB and Thomas made up the midfield, Matt and Rooney the wing backs, Polack and Chancy in central defence. Mao – he of Teflon glove fame – was in goal.
On the bench were Majo, Ant, Charles, Christian, Paddy, Liam, Alejandro…. More than likely some others your humble chronicler may have inadvertently forgotten. After a performance like that, I wish I could forget the whole day.
Racing out of the blocks, it was the Lions who sped in to a 2 goal lead within ten minutes, with Thomas scoring his 4th of the CPL season, before turning provider, setting up Tim “Brutus” Brown who this week decided not to take a touch, instead just shooting first time, and boom shanka, the Lions were up 2-0.
Da An were truly rattled, but put pressure on the Lions defence, who needlessly gave away fouls all around the danger zone. Thankfully the Lions defence from these set pieces managed to keep the ball clear of the goal, clearing up field. Any shots that did make it past the wall or defence also went well wide or over the bar.
Then came a changing moment, Alex “Just graduated from Mora’s Mexican School of Diving” Ramirez was tackled in the cleanest fashion by Volker, dived and – to all the Lions complete disbelief – was awarded the most despicable penalty of all time. Or at least since Mora last won a penalty.
If Ramirez had had any balls, he would have told the ref that it was a clean tackle, but no – in a gutless show he proved to the world he is a cheat, and with Fowler – yet again – choosing to dive the wrong way, the penalty was dispatched, and the Lions lead reduced to a single goal.
More and more of the pressure was now being piled on the Lions, but thankfully there were no more incidents before the break, and the Lions went in with a 2-1 lead.
The second half saw cloud cover and cooler temperatures, but the game was still a hot affair. Chancy introduced a load of subs – including Majo up front. Alejandro came on in central midfield, Charles and Ant were also now on, Christian on the right in midfield.
Both teams knew that this game was there to be won, but with shooting chances being few and far between, Da An were reduced to shooting from distance, a couple of which went fairly close, but not close enough. Some more diving inside the area this time did not bring a penalty, instead the ref chose to give a goal kick.
The Lions seemed to lack the ability to penetrate the Da An defence, marshalled well by Kim Sun Il. For the moment, at least.
As the game drew to a conclusion, it was a Teflon glove moment from Rob “Howler” Fowler as an easy cross was somehow inexplicably dropped in to the path of not one but two Da An attackers who could not believe their collective luck, checked the diaries to see if it was Christmas, saw it was not, checked once more to see if it was their birthdays, saw it was not, shrugged, looked at each other and then blasted home.
Mao has already fined Fowler a round of beers – payable at Carnegies next weekend.
Da An were now in the ascendency, believing this game was now all over for the Lions, and they pushed forwards in numbers. But Fowler’s spirit of giving seemed to be just the example Kim Sun Il needed, and as the Lions cleared their lines, breaking quickly, it was Kim Sun Il who at full stretch failed to deal with a through ball, instead clearing it straight to Christian who delivered a cross so delicious it could have been given Michelin stars, right to the far post, where Thomas got a flick, as did the goalkeeper, only to palm it straight to Fred who nodded it in for an unlikely winning goal. 3-2 Lions.
And that was it – Da An had no answer to this late goal, and the Lions now move in to the top five, and close to within one point of Carnegies FC who – and it gives your humble scribe absolutely no pleasure whatsoever to mention this – lost 1-0 to JFC in the early kick off.
On a totally separate note, in the game preceding the Lions – Da An game, one Shane player had to receive hospital treatment after a very heavy challenge in the penalty area. On behalf of the Red Lions, Mao would like to wish that player a speedy recovery.