It was a beautiful sunny day as the Lions assembled at Da Jia, and indeed at Bai Ling, for the game against the P Cocksuckers. With the BML finally making a welcome return, the Lions finally decided on one single location to meet at, Da Jia being the final resting place.
Out-going Captain “Oh Captain My Captain” Cooke decided on a most interesting starting formation, with a back three consisting of Bryan, and flanked by Charles and Ant, Andy the Bear and Genghis “Edwin” Khan as kind of defensive wing backs, Mirko the Carp and Mike the Lionheart in central midfield, Fred and TB up front, with Volker in goal, and OG 7 kilometres away in a taxi.
On the subs bench were Kim Sun Il the Red, Carl, Clovis and Mora.
Maybe it was the sadness of knowing that the Lions’ number one choice goalkeeper is out for the rest of the season. Perhaps it was the lack of Jaime to score those wonder goals. Or perchance it might have been the fact that Kim Sun Il the Red fractured the ribs of Thomassini, thus leaving the Lions’ top scorer out for a few more weeks. But most likely it was a combination of all the above which brought a rather lacklustre Lions performance.
The Lions started off looking like a team that had not played for some weeks, which was rather uncanny. Having said that, Ant was getting in some mighty fine tackles at the back, stopping the piercing runs of the P Cocksuckers forwards. Bryan too was looking most comfortable in his – shall we say? – shackled role in the back, and Charles… well Charles was just Charles.
As the game wore on, the Lions still playing with 9 outfield players, one goalkeeper and the promise of a soon to be arriving taxi, the P Cocksuckers didn’t really trouble the Lions’ 18 yard box, Volker having nothing more than standard fare to deal with at the back.
Up front however, the lack of midfield maestroism meant that the attacking … errr… force of TB and Fred could not get the rhythm going, and with a lack of service, the duo seemed to be wasting a lot of energy. Energy that TB – for one – did not have masses of reserves of.
Finally though OG’s taxi arrived, and on to the pitch he went. Strangely though, there was very little – if indeed any – improvement to the Lions game. Left to chasing the ball it was the opponents who looked more comfortable, although they were having as many issues penetrating the Lions’ defence as the Lions were getting the ball to either Fred or TB.
On the wings, the defensive wings that is, both Genghis and Andy the Bear were making some good runs to provide width to the Lions game. In the midfield, Mirko the Carp was making his presence felt, and Mike Lionheart showed the same sort of passion and determination as always.
Let’s be perfectly frank here, the first half was boring. Maybe it was merely the fact that your humble chronicler is used to watching games from between the sticks, but I doubt it. Indeed, many of those watching from the sidelines made comments that were not too dissimilar to the game being rather less interesting that watching paint dry.
Mr Liu did however put us out of our misery by blowing the half time whistle eventually, and off the teams came for the break. The only change in the Lions formation at this point was TB coming off, to be replaced by Mora.
In to the second half and Mora made an immediate impact, with two excellent opportunities within the first 60 seconds of the restart. You thought the Lions now showed a little more hunger, perhaps a little more will to win this game and maintain the pressure on City. You thought it. Alas Mora’s first shot lacked pace, making it easy for the P Cocksuckers goalkeeper to pick up, the second just off target, but the Lions had finally carved open a chance or two. There was hope in the air for the second half.
Despite having more possession this half, the Lions were still having trouble delivering that killer final ball, an issue Mike the Lionheart would find to his detriment on more than one occasion, that final touch letting him down. OG was his usual self, covering all the pitch, wanting to take throw-ins, passing to himself if possible. There is a rumour he has asked to have himself cloned, so that he can do just that.
The P Cocksuckers though sensed weakness in the Lions defence, and they were making some piercing runs, trying to penetrate and carve open a scoring opportunity themselves. And from such a move they earned a free kick on the edge of the Lions area. From where your humble narrator was standing, the German goalkeeper looked mightily out of position as the ball flew in to the net to give the opposition a not totally undeserved 1-0 lead. Volker’s positioning was, however, defended a little later by Dan Calvert who claims that the ball went in right at the corner. Mao, however, is firmly of the opinion that he would have had it. Typical fecking Mao.
It has been duly noted that referee Mr Liu and Mao have a somewhat turbulent history, with them perhaps not seeing eye to eye on numerous occasions. So it may come as a surprise for you, my dear reader, to note that Genghis “Edwin” Khan on the left wing was fouled, with the ball falling nicely to Mora who alas was unable to control it. Mr Liu then saw that there was no advantage for the Lions, and called play back for the foul. Mao was most impressed.
If only the same could be said for the Lions defending as – with the game getting in to the final stage – a cross came in from the opponents’ right wing, the ball evading everyone except Ant who, without actually knowing the ball was going wide, knocked it in to his own net.
2-0 for the P Cocksuckers.
But there was more to come. With Carl, Clovis and Kim Sun Il now all on the pitch, the Lions were still pushing forwards, trying to work a way back in to this game, but at the same time leaving gaping holes in the defence, which gave the opposition several more opportunities than they ideally should have been given. From one such chance, they brought out an outstanding save from the Lions number 2 keeper (yes, number one in your hearts!).
With some very tired legs on the pitch, and the heads having gone down, there was one final nail to be hammered in to the coffin as Geghis “Edwin” Khan committed footballing Harakiri as, under very little pressure on the left, he passed towards the central defence, only to miss them all completely, instead delivering an inch-perfect pass to the attacker who posed his way past the Lions final defender and keeper, leaving both sprawling on the floor as he calmly slotted the ball away for the 3-0 victory.
And that was essentially that. Although there were still a couple of minutes left, there was just no response from the Lions who looked well and truly shell shocked.
Gayer Rob went and got the beers, although there was very little to celebrate.