After a couple of delays, the new BML season finally got underway on Friday night, with Fritz gaining a slightly fortuitous 3 points against one of the two new teams this season, Taipei International. Two days later, all the weekend’s other games took place, with the Red Lions taking on Dentway, the surprise package of last season.
Da Jia’s pitch A was the location for the game, the first BML match to be played here, as the Lions assembled, some arriving nice and early in preparation of the season. But a certain Italian was nowhere to be seen. His excuse? He thought he was starting on the bench for the game, so figured he did not need to arrive on time. Fine team spirit. And whilst we are on the subject of fines, and spirits, Dumbass is fined 2 rounds payable at the Christmas party for such an attitude.
With other players also turning up late, as the CPL match finished (thereby having valid excuses, and – with the Chairman in most generous mood – therefore not subjected to pre-Christmas party fines), the Lions ended up with the luxury of having a rather large squad to choose from.
Captain “Oh Captain My Captain” Cooke thought that there were new rules introduced by the BML regarding subs, and got worried that he could only make three changes, but thankfully completely misunderstood this, thus enabling him to make the necessary modifications to the team that could secure the three points and thrust the Lions (Clovis, don’t get excited) to the top of the league table after Day 1.
Tetsu made his BML debut for the Lions, starting alongside Jaime, Kim Sun Il and Charles in defence, with Fred, Mirko, Dumbass “Don’t call me Thomas” Costa and Clovis in midfield, Gayer Rob and Panda up front, and Mao in goal.
The short, narrow pitch meant that there would not be a lot of space, but for the Lions fine passing game, this should not be an issue. Except that the fine passing game that Captain “Oh Captain My Captain” Cooke thinks is our forte, sometimes doesn’t work out that way.
“Keep it on the ground,” came the pre-match speech. “Get it out wide.”
The Rent Boys had no goalkeeper to speak of, although the same could be said of the Lions with Volker still out injured, although this is neither the time nor indeed the place to speculate such things. As the team huddled for the first Spartacus of the new season, Mao told the attackers to place the shots, don’t blast them. But did the attackers listen? No. Blasting shots was so much more fun.
Clovis tried to take position on the left wing, despite being told firmly that he was on the right. Apparently everyone’s ears, except his, were in fine working order.
The referee blew his whistle, the new season now well and truly on, and it was the Lions who went straight for the jugular. Hungry Lions, on the hunt, making the opposition their prey, hell bent on blasting shots over the bar, wide, basically off target.
The Lions had a multitude of chances, all the play, all the possession, but could not break down the barrier of the opponents who were playing a high defensive line. Mirko was making some well timed challenges, and Fred was making himself available all the time, looking for the ball, then delivering precise passes with his distribution. Dumbass “don’t call me Thomas” Costa was trying to be too cheeky, too cocky with his over-confident play, and despite seeing a lot of the ball, decided not to heed Mao’s advice of placing his shots by instead failing to lob the keeper, kicking the ball straight in to his open, grateful arms. On more than just one occasion.
At the back, Tetsu was making a fine league debut for the Lions, Jaime and Kim Sun Il solid (for the moment), Charles also clearing the danger from the opponent’s left wing nicely.
Up top, Gayer Rob was laying off balls nicely, Panda working hard to find some space in a very cramped area.
Despite all of this, the Lions could not find a way to penetrate the opponents defensive lines, and were perhaps a little slow in getting back on occasion. Dentway were – when they made it out of their own half – putting pressure on the Lions defence, closing down and playing a pressing game where they could, and one back pass came to Mao who sold the oncoming attacker a rather nice dummy, before laying off a clearance to Fred who had made himself available, not for the first nor indeed the last time.
Feeling that there was an advantage to be had from this pressing game, Dentway put Jaime as the last man inside the defence under some pressure, and instead of playing the relatively simple pass to Mao, decided to try to play his way out of trouble, being robbed by two oncoming attackers, one of whom placed the ball (see how it’s done Dumbass?) low to Mao’s right to give the Rent Boys a far from deserved 1-0 lead.
However this lead lasted less than 2 minutes, and thinking they had shell-shocked the Lions, this time tried to put Kim Sun Il under the same sort of pressure they had asserted on Jaime, but Kim “Not Black Enough” Sun Il cleverly weaved one way, then another before laying off the most delightful of passes, threading the needle, so to speak, to Fred who – yet again – had made himself free. Fred then ran down the left wing towards the opponent’s 18 yard box before delivering a shot that took the slightest of deflections to get the Lions back on level terms.
Not long after that, with the scent of blood and victory in their nostrils, probably the best chance of the half came, with Dumbass “Don’t call me Thomas” Costa twisting and turning inside the box and laying off the ball, probably towards Panda, but ending up at the feet of Clovis who – with the Dentway keeper absolutely nowhere to be seen – had the goal at his mercy. Yet as he got off his shot, out of nowhere appeared a Rent Boy defender to clear it off the line.
There may well have been some more action in the first half but apart from Carl’s triumphant return to the Lions, replacing Charles at right back, nothing worthy of note happened.
Half time came then, the Lions seemingly in ascendant mood, and Chancy made a few changes at half time, aimed at pressing home this advantage, shoring things up in the midfield, modifying the formation to a most attacking 4-3-3. Off went Clovis and Panda, on came OG and Bryan, this trio of Carnegies players fresh from winning the CPL title (congratulations to Carnegies FC).
And these changes had an almost immediate impact on the game, Bryan and OG running the show in the centre of the Park, combining well with Mirko and the wingers as the Lions pushed forwards.
Given a foul mid way inside the opponent’s half, Bryan played in OG with an inch perfect pass, OG laying it off to Fred who slotted the ball in to the net with a well placed shot (comprende Dumbass?) to put the Lions 2-1 up. And within a couple of minutes, OG repaid the compliment with a trademark, defence-splitting pass to Bryan who from the left hand side of the penalty area, opened up his body at the last minute to place the ball sweetly past the keeper. The Lions now completely in control of this game at 3-1, but still pushing forward, hungry for more goals.
On came Sergei for the Polack, getting stuck in right away, making life hard for the opponents. In a rare foray in to the Lions half, the Dentway attack broke down, Tetsu easily dispossessing the attacker before laying off a pass with a call that sounded remarkably like “Dumbass San”.
The Rent Boys were able to mount one attack of note in the second half, the diving, cheating, Fritz-reject number 10 weaving his way through the Lions defence, forcing Mao in to a decent save which was cleared once more by the most reliable Kim Sun Il/Tetsu combination.
Not long after that, Bryan got on the scoresheet once more, extending the Lions lead with another nicely placed shot, before Dumbass showed the Lions why he had not – to that point – been placing his shots. Having been sent through with a deft pass, Dumbass was clear of the last man, round the keeper, and – with that huge empty net to aim for – placed a shot that ended up a good couple of metres wide of its target.
“Couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo” were just some of the comments that were audible from the sideline. Expletives have been deleted from those comments, but had they remained in, your humble chronicler would still be writing this match report in to the middle of December. 2013.
On came Jose for Jaime, making one or two well timed challenges, clearing the ball up field so that the Lions could build on a counter attack. And at the other end, Carl’s long throws put the Dentway defence under yet more pressure.
The Lions were beginning to run riot, and OG got on to the scoresheet with another well placed shot for a fully deserved 5-1 lead, but the goals had not yet finished, and Dumbass “Stop calling me Thomas” Costa finally worked it out, shooting low to the keeper’s left to finish off this rout.
Bryan also had a great opportunity to finish off his own personal hat trick, but alas tried too deft a touch, and was not able to get the ball past the keeper.
So three points in the bag, and the Lions on top of the league by virtue of the goals scored after Day 1. It was good to see so many injured Lions turn up to watch and support – Rooney, Mora, Kevin, Volker and even Hemingay all watching from the sidelines.
After the game, the thoughts returned to the CPL, with OG trying to bribe the Red Lions chairman in to conceding 7 or 8 goals in the yet to be played encounter between the Lions and Carnegies FC. For trying to openly bribe the Chairman with such risible amounts, OG is fined a double round at the Christmas party. For trying to broker the deal, Mora is also fined a double round at the Christmas party. For missing more goals than you could poke a stick at, Dumbass is fined a double round at the Christmas party. And, for trying to ensure a good write up yet again by sucking up to your humble chairman, Mirko is fined a double round at the Christmas party. For misinterpreting the BML rules, Captain “Oh Captain my Captain” Cooke is fined a double round, and for missing the team photo because of more pressing, non-team related issues, Clovis is fined a double round.
And just so that everyone is crystal clear on this matter, the first round at the Christmas party has already been paid for by Mao.
The State has spoken.