Clovis closes the season from the rear (And takes it for the team)

So the BML season ended for the Lions in an entertaining spectacle and match against Fritz in another game which really was there for the taking, but which the Lions failed to capitalize on. Perhaps this game epitomized the second half of the BML season for the Lions, with suspensions from the flurry of red cards over the weekend affecting the line up.

Turning up late for the game due to parental and work duties, your humble scribe counted the number of Lions on the pitch as he arrived. Then recounted, just to make sure. Perhaps this is force of habit, but relief set in as 11 were counted, and reconfirmed. It wouldn’t stay that way though. Alas your humble chronicler is getting ahead of himself slightly…

So the starting line up was – errr – Panda in goal, with Kim Sun Il, Charles, Clovis and Andy the Bear looking like the back 4, with Francois, Mirko the Carp, Thomas, Fred and Genghis “Edwin” Khan, and TB. On the sidelines, waiting patiently to come on were Ant, Sergay and – for the love of Christ – Mao. Mora also showed his true Lions spirit by turning up to support the team despite being injured.

From the latter part of the half, it was clear that the Lions were up for it and fighting, the players working hard to make space for each other, but once more those final passes were lacking. Mirko and Francois especially in the centre of midfield were playing strong football, making well timed, hard tackles to win the ball off the opposition, Fred saw a lot of the ball, but bemoaned the lack of diagonal runs from the men up front. So instead, he passed regularly to the opponents.

Some nice football on the right wing saw the Lions draw a foul from Fritz, and Kim Sun Il took the free kick amidst calls of derision from Chancy “Oh Captain TFC’s Captain” Cooke. Kim Sun Il then delivered a teasing cross in which Thomas then decided was perfect height for a famous bicycle kick, which failed miserably to meet the target, eventually finding its way out to the far left where Clovis confidently shouted “mine, mine” before hitting a tame attempt of a shot woefully wide of the target.

At the back, Kim Sun Il and Charles were catching Fritz offside several times, and it looked like a stalemate was on the cards perhaps until half time. But with just a few minutes to go before that half time whistle, an exploratory shot came in from the edge of the box, and as Panda got a hand to it, failing alas to get his body behind, the ball rebounded in to the net for a 1-0 lead to Fritz.

Had Fowler or Volker been in goal it would have gone down as a howler. But given the fact that Panda is more used to scoring those goals than he is to saving them, credit must go to the man who selflessly took charge of that position during the sustained absence of the Lions number 17.

The Lions reacted well to the setback, and went about looking for a reply, not letting the heads drop. Fred put the Fritz defenders under pressure, winning the ball well and getting in a cross, which was cleared by the team in blue.

So half time came, and the call was made for a substitution. With the wisdom of hindsight, this perhaps was not the cleverest substitution of all time. Chancy decided he wanted to get on the pitch, so he was going in goal. Off would come TB, Panda replacing him up front.

For the next six and a half minutes, things looked good at the back for the Lions. Some calm back passes were met with long clearances out to the left wing by the replacement keeper. But then disaster struck. With a Fritz attacker breaching the Lions defence, Chancy “Oh Captain TFC’s Captain” blatantly brought down the player on the edge of the box as he took the ball past, and was quite correctly shown the red card for his action.

Six and a half minutes. A Lions record for getting a red card. For the resulting penalty, Clovis manfully volunteered to go in goal, becoming the 3rd Red Lions keeper in the space of 7 playing minutes. Another Lions record.

The attacker got slightly lucky with his penalty, going in off the post to make the score 2-0. Unassailable? Certainly not, but with the Lions now down to 10 players, it would be an uphill struggle.

Yet an inspired substitution brought some hope. Chancy “Oh Captain TFC’s Captain” was now down to his final two decent substitutes, bringing off Andy the Bear for Ant, and Genghis (I believe though I may be wrong. And if I am, just remember that any whining about the match report will be met with a fine, so consider that before any sarcastic comments about the precision of the report) being replaced by Sergay.

As he was about to get on the pitch, OG revealed the meaning behind those initials – he shall now be known as Ober Gaylord – by offering Sergay a handjob if he scored.

The Lions, with this injection of energy in to the team, now felt that perhaps something was to be had from this game, and Mirko the Carp and Fred brought the ball forwards well through the middle. Mirko the Carp passed the ball to Fred, Fred passed out to the wing, leaving Panda a long chase to get the ball. Mirko the Carp, though, was not happy with this, feeling instead that he was the better option to pass to, and enraged he shouted “Jesus Christ”, before heading back to a more defensive midfield position.

Unfortunately for him, Panda actually won the ball, and could have done with Mirko the Carp’s presence in the box as a potential target for his cross. Alas, supported solely by Fred, the Lions attack fizzled in to nothing.

But the Lions didn’t just give up here and they sensed they could just get something out of this game. And shortly afterwards, the ball found its’ way out to the left wing, where Sergay cut inside his defender and placed a shot beautifully in to the far corner of the goal, the net rippling as he sent a wink over to Ober Gaylord that suggested he’ll be more than happy to get that handjob as soon as the final whistle goes.

So… 2-1, and all to play for. But Fritz didn’t like this score much, and immediately went on the attack, slicing through the Lions defence like a hot knife through butter, sinking the ball past Clovis to all but end the Lions comeback.

With just 15 minutes left to play, both Thomas and Francois wanted to come off, alas there was only Mao left on the bench, so both valiantly offered to carry on playing, rather than let this calamitous event take place. However with his energy sapping, Francois was soon forced off, Mao replacing him for the final minutes.

Fritz saw out the last ten minutes without too much pressure on their goal. The Lions fought valiantly, chasing after the ball at all times, but with the numerical disadvantage, Fritz was able to just pass the ball out of defence without too much trouble.

As the final whistle went, Sergay headed over to the Ober Gaylord, the question in most Lions minds being “is that a bottle of vodka in Sergay’s shorts, or is he just pleased to see the Ober Gaylord?”

So the BML season has finished, the Lions can be proud of many fine performances over the last months, and be hopeful of an improvement (if we can keep 11 players on the field) for the new season, just a few months away.

And with the Taichung tournament just hours away, the Lions had the perfect warm up for it.

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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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