When a combination of Polish and Italians start organizing things then you know that chaos is about to reign. And so it happened on Friday evening when a full squad of Lions turned up at the Da Jia pitches for the friendly against a new-look Rogues FC. Even those who turned up late were not late, because the Italian-Polish combination of Godfather and Judas the Unworthy couldn’t find the guy responsible for turning on the floodlights.
After searching all the bars in Lin Sen North Road, all the bin lang joints in Xinbei, and various other localities of disrepute, the guy finally turned up and reluctantly turned on the lights. Instead of getting the game started, Godfather instead embarked on some positional training which, it was clear, everyone forgot as soon as the game started.
With many players missing, it was somewhat surprising perhaps that so many fit Lions turned up, including Jaime, Mora, Charles, Salah, Mirko the Carp, Ant, Clovis, Ian (aka Jimmy Glass), the Japanese pairing of Ichi and Scrachi (aka Tetsu), Genghis, TB, Francois, as well as our resident Italians Nicola, aka Bonasera, and Godfather. Your humble, meek, mild-mannered, and extremely quiet chronicler was in goal.
Having played a goalless game against JFC the previous weekend, Godfather needed to make some tough decisions, and ended up dropping himself to the subs bench after having missed many goal scoring opportunities. It was a decision that the team fully agreed with.
To the game then and the Lions raced out of the blocks, playing the beautiful passing game that is a sight for sore eyes. Jaime and Ian combined nicely, playing in a full 11-a-side game for the first time, TB fought valiantly in the way that only TB can, chasing the ball, hassling the Rogues defenders at any opportunity. Beautiful passes to feet, running off the ball, Salah in midfield almost dictating things the way he had against JFC. Francois too was seeing a lot of the ball early on, as the Lions defence of Charles and Ant, flanked by Genghis and Clovis failed to be troubled at this stage. Mirko the Carp was his usual steady self, making some excellent tackles, and not allowing the Rogues midfielders to settle.
Within minutes it was Jaime who opened the scoring, the Gay Judas Polack goalkeeper for the Rogues showing his true lack of talent by essentially presenting Jaime with an open goal. Jaime didn’t need a second invitation as he slotted home, the Lions run of missing goals now officially ended.
The Lions were pushing hard for a second, but did not count on the pace of the attackers of our opponents. And despite dominating once more the possession, Rogues found a break and with the Lions back four playing a high defensive line, placed a nice through ball up their own left wing. With Mao unsurprisingly slow out of his goal, the attacker slid the ball past the hapless Lions keeper to make it 1-1.
Parity would not last long though. Immediately from the kick off, the ball found its way out to Ian “Jimmy Glass” on the Lions left wing, who restored the Lions lead immediately with a low hard shot in to the far corner of the goal.
Before the end of the first period, Salah too got on the score sheet, the rather disjointed efforts of the Rogues defence allowing the Lions midfield maestro to work his magic.
As the whistle went to signal the end of the first period, Godfather deciding once more on a 3 x 30 minute period game, the Lions looked both comfortable, and, with their collective goal scoring boots on, capable of scoring yet more goals.
Having said that, it was the opponent who scored first in the second period, the Lions keeper quite obviously being fouled in the lead up to the goal, Godfather turning a blind eye in much the same way as a BML referee would, Godfather a stickler in his attention to detail about the imitation of a BML match. Except for the format. And the location of the game. And the timing of the game.
Mao, it must be said, was not happy by this amateur level of refereeing. 3-2 then and the Rogues were now putting us under pressure but the Lions failed to panic. Some excellent challenges at the back by Ant and Charles, Clovis fired up and Genghis too making sure that the Lions locked up at the back, all combined to make sure that there would be no more goals conceded this period.
The Gay Judas Polack had obviously instructed his team to place corners and crosses on the Lions keeper, renowned for his inability to catch anything, including a cold, and from another cross, the Lions keeper fumbled and flapped, the ball finally being cleared away from danger by Ant.
Gradually though the Lions worked their way back in to the game, Rogues perhaps now a little flustered at not being able to score again. Instead, moments of magic from Francois essentially finished off the Rogue challenge as he scored not once, but twice in the latter part of the period to put the Lions in to a most commanding position, the Frenchman showing some touches of brilliance as he danced his way through the Rogues defence and past the goalkeeper.
However the Lions still pushed a high line, which Rogues exploited, and it was only a combination of some last ditch defending and some alert keeping from your humble narrator which averted the danger.
The final period saw Godfather relieve himself of refereeing duties, Chancy coming on for the final 30 minutes to officiate as Godfather donned the red and white stripes of the Red Lions, coming on for a final cameo appearance before the BML starts next weekend.
The first action of the period though was at the Lions end, once cross being tipped over and on to the bar by the Lions keeper. From the resulting corner, Rogues had the ball in the net, but with the referee having slightly more refereeing abilities than Godfather (ie some abilities), Chancy saw another blatant push on the Lions keeper in the build up and rightly gave a free kick the Lions way.
Shortly after, Godfather showed a moment of magic as the ball found its way out to him, lurking just outside the Rogue’s penalty area, and he smashed home an absolute screamer from 25 metres to put the Lions in to the most commanding of leads. Well, the Germans certainly thought so against Sweden.
However, unlike the Germans, the Red Lions were able to not just defend this 4 goal margin, but also build upon it, and with the game in the final minute, it was Ichi who slotted the ball home from the right edge of the Rogues penalty area to seal the 7-2 victory.
So a good end to the warm ups for the forthcoming BML season, and with several Lions now with their shooting boots working, perhaps International should be wary of the Lions who seem to be coming out of their collective slumber.