Big news day overshadows Big Lions victory

Your humble scribe was getting ready to leave for the football when 2 messages came in almost simultaneously. One was from Clovis, proclaiming sickness. The other was from Kim “Not black enough” Sun Il, proclaiming sickness.

Mao is no believer in coincidences like this, and therefore has come to the only logical conclusion – Kim Sun Il has finally come out of the closet. And has obviously also proven that he IS black enough. The State proclaims that his new official name is Gay Kim “I’m Black Enough” Sun Il.

As those of us not gay enough to be involved in such affairs assembled at the dust bowl with the occasional pocket of green which once upon a time may have been grass, also once referred to as the Bai Ling football pitch, the team was informed that Jarkko was now deemed not to be eligible to play in the game, despite mails from the BML confirming he was.

Carl seems also to have inherited Fred’s watch, turning up very late despite his proclamations of it being the game he has looked forward to all season. Jose also set his watch to Panamanian punctuality, turning up in time for the second half. Just.

This lack of defenders presented Chancy “Oh Captain My Captain” Cooke with a slight issue, which forced him into a 3-2-2-1-2 formation. Someone must have been burning the midnight oil playing Football Manager. For the record, the back line was Ant, Charles and Genghis “Edwin” Khan. In the midfield, OG and Mirko were given holding roles, Fred and Rooney on the wings, with Bryan in an attacking midfield position, and Panda and Thomas Costa Allegra, the man who – it is rumoured – likes a good tug in any port, up front. Mao’s return to goal was heralded not in any way because of his fine goalkeeping skills, but more because of the fact that the only thing worse than an imprecise match report is no match report.

To the game then and the Lions stormed out of the blocks, putting pressure on the Rogues goal right from the beginning, the opponents struggling to get the ball out of their own half as the Lions went straight for the jugular. Despite the bobbly sand pit trying hard to imitate a decent playing surface for a game of football, the Lions still managed lots of those neat, short passes to feet that are practiced at each training session. If Chancy’s there, of course.

OG was his usual tireless self, combining well with both wings, Rooney on the left getting in some sweet passes, ensuring excellent support to the Lions attack. For several minutes though, the Lions were a man short – Bryan being seen on all fours, as though he was trying to make love to a poodle, apparently puking his guts out.

Once he had returned, and the Lions were back up to full strength, the onslaught continued, as the Lions peppered shots on goal, being well saved by the Rogues keeper, or blocked and deflected off for a corner. Rooney was given corner taking duties, and floated in some delicious crosses which were scrambled away by the Rogues defence.

When the ball did finally make it in to the Lions half, the trio of Ant, Charles and Genghis mopped up neatly, looking wide once more to the midfield to turn the screw a little tighter, the Lions attempting to find a total stranglehold on the game, with OG and Mirko making excellently timed tackles, and then distributing in much the same manner. Surely it was only a matter of time before the first goal arrived.

And indeed it was – and it came from the impressive trio of Bryan, OG and Thomas Costa Allegra, the man who – it is rumoured – likes a good tug in any port. All three of these players played some of the deftest one-touch short passes in to space, the Rogues defence left to chase shadows in the beautiful Sunday afternoon sunshine, as OG ran on to an inch perfect pass from Thomas Costa Allegra, the man who – it is rumoured – likes a good tug in any port, to slide the ball under the keeper giving the Lions a fully deserved 1-0 lead.

Moments later, the lead was doubled as Thomas Costa Allegra, the man who – it is rumoured – likes a good tug in any port, got himself on to the score sheet with a typically placed shot to the far post, and you thought the goal fest was on.

Bryan – fresh from his gut-wrenching experience – was also in no mood to let OG and Thomas Costa Allegra, the man who – it is rumoured – likes a good tug in any port, get any kind of exclusivity on the scoring, trying shot after shot which was either well saved or blocked.

Thankfully for the Lions though he kept plugging at it, not in the same way as Clovis and recently exited from the closet Gay Kim “I’m Black Enough” Sun Il were rumoured to be plugging, of course, and he was rewarded shortly before half time with his first with a fierce drive from just outside the penalty area, at least it looked like it from where your humble chronicler was standing, not that anyone could actually see a line on the dust anyway.

So 3-0 at half time, and it was essentially game over.

Chancy “Oh Captain My Captain” Cooke made no changes at half time, planning instead to maintain that stability for the first few minutes of the second half.

From kick off it was clear the Lions were still hungry, despite the arrival of a couple of new Rogues players, ensuring that Dave Reynoldson was pushed down the priority list of substitutes. Fred was constantly looking for the ball in the immense space that was afforded him on the right wing, alas several times the Lions were unable to find him.

Up front Panda was making mazy runs, looking to find some space, hold up the ball and lay it off, Thomas Costa Allegra, the man who – it is rumoured – likes a good tug in any port his partner doing much the same, yet despite tons of possession, the Lions could not capitalize and were unable to increase their lead.

Rooney was replaced by Carl, who took no time getting stuck in, eager to put in a fighting performance for the Lions against Rogues. Shortly after being brought on he was pulled in to defence as Genghis was replaced by TB, marking his return from injury with typical TB gusto. And still the Lions pushed, but despite all the possession, there was no increase to the goal tally.

As the game neared the end, Rogues finally mounted an attack, with a long ball being delivered nicely to Ian Edwards who was flagged – incorrectly – for offside. Not that it mattered – Mao managed to make the save anyway in the one and only piece of action worthy of mention from the Lions keeper.

Rogues complained to the ref that Andy had not touched the ball for a flick on, so Ian should not have been offside, and as they were whining, OG took the free kick, the ball making its way once more to Bryan who rounded the keeper, and tucked the ball away for his second, the Lions fourth.

Almost immediately after kick off the ref had seen enough, and blew his whistle to signal the end of the game. An excellent performance against tricky opponents, and a very good way to warm up for the Kaohsiung tournament next weekend.

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About Mao

Chairman Mao. The man who takes the Taipei Red Lions to new depths of corruption. Hands out more fines for more reasons than any man in history. Thinks he's a good keeper, but try sending in a cross for him to take. But he writes a mean match report. And even occasionally buys a round himself. And he keeps the Politburo in check.
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