Before the game started, your humble chronicler went and had a quick chat with Ichi.
“You need to score a goal,” he said, “so that I can use the headline ‘The Ichi and Scrachi Show”
Little was anyone to know just how literally Ichi would take this command.
To the game then, and the Red Lions assembled at Bai Ling B pitch, also known as the dust bowl, with a changed side from the previous weekend which had seen the Lions stroll through to a 2-0 victory. Despite scoring the season opener for the Red Lions, Tim “Brutus” Brown was relegated to the bench. The starting line up saw Christian, Ant, Charles and Jose at the back, Salah, Ichi, Ian “Jimmy Glass” and Mirko the Carp in midfield, with Jaime and Fred up front. Your humble narrator was in goal, although for all the action that would be played in the Lions’ half, it may as well have been Krusty the Clown.
Dispelling any thoughts that perhaps the Sanchong boys had progressed during the off season, the Red Lions once more didn’t have to get out of second gear for this game, and the first few minutes emulated the previous game with lots of passes going astray on what has to be acknowledged by all as a seriously bumpy pitch that does not allow nice football to be played. Obviously the BML organizers have taken inspiration from Wall Street, making maximum profits their top priority. Thankfully though Sanchong were having enough issues of their own regarding the retention of the ball, so to say those first 15 minutes or so were not exactly top quality is not a million miles from an accurate description.
Several players found their passes – short or long – head straight to the opposition, and it seemed there was a distinct lack of concentration within the Lions ranks. One such case was evident when the ball was played to Jose, but Jose was not looking. It was only after a gentle reminder that he noticed the ball in his vicinity, so he chased off to go get it. Thankfully for the Lions, Sanchong also was not paying attention.
But gradually the Lions took control of the game, all inspired by the Lions right back, Christian. After having had a rather slow start himself, he found himself in some space on the right wing, made one of those trademark runs to the byline, delivering a powerful that evaded all touches until it reached Ichi at the back post who slotted the ball away in a fashion that had more than a passing resemblance to Rob Edwards’ goal at Wembley in 2008, except it wasn’t a corner, and it weasn’t Dean Moxey delivering the cross. Anyway, 1-0 Lions and this seemed to settle the team.
Shortly afterwards, the Lions got a free kick just outside the Sanchong penalty area, Christian stepping up to take it, firing a breathtaking and unstoppable (unless your humble narrator had been facing it of course) thunderbolt in to the back of the net to make it 2-0. Now the dreams of Taiwan’s youth were truly gone, destroyed within just a few first half minutes.
But the Lions were not finished for the first half, and the Lions were passing with a lot more confidence, Ian and Salah working hard in the middle of the park, trying to find space on this pitch which was as narrow and short as it was bumpy. Now passes were finding the intended recipient, Mirko the Carp making some well timed tackles, the entire back row of the Red Lions defence not allowing the ball or what may once have resembled the Sanchong attack any time or opportunity to bear down on the Lions’ goal.
Christian – or Scrachi as he will now be known – also was not finished, as he delivered one final pass to the far post which looked like it may have gone in off Fred’s shin, but in it went anyway, and the Lions led 3-0. A true showing of men against boys, and among those men, Scrachi stood tall.
Half time came, Godfather deciding not to sub the back row, mainly because they had yet – with the exception of Scrachi perhaps – to break in to a sweat. He did, however, bring himself on, at the expense of Mirko, if my ever so hazy memory serves me correctly.
It was always going to be difficult to follow up on the wondrous first half, especially with the Red Lions entering a secondary phase of complacency. Sanchong, for their part, looked like they hadn’t got a clue what to do any more. Having been shouted at through their half time break, they just wanted to go home to watch Doraemon reruns on TV. Football? Bollocks to that, said the expressions on their poor collective faces.
Within a few minutes, Godfather showed why he had rested himself in the first half by scoring a scorcher from distance, the goalkeeper once more miles away from a veritably unstoppable (although once again your humble scribe is firmly of the opinion that he would have saved it) tonker of a shot. 4-0 Lions and if the Sanchong boys heads had been down before, now they were in total despondency.
But they did break once down their left wing, with Ant shouting to Scrachi to cover him in the middle whilst he personally went in with a crunching tackle (and also most fair) to put the ball in to touch.
And after that, there was no more real action to speak of. Subs were brought on, including a cameo performance by Andy “Dude” the Bear. You will, dear reader, forgive me if I don’t list all subs, especially not in chronological order, but it was quite honestly rather tedious to watch. Sanchong had no fight left, the Lions weren’t really that bothered about scoring more goals. The game was done. Had the referee blown his whistle for time after just 65 minutes there would have been no complaints from either side.
Still there was time for some Red Lions BML debuts for Spike and Alonso, both of whom spurned spectacularly easy chances. First up was Alonso who was played in to a one on one situation with the Sanchong keeper. Alonso perhaps with a little too much cockiness and confidence tried to take about 600 touches more than he really needed, and instead of actually taking a shot, decided to take on the entire Sanchong defence, before taking on the entire Sanchoing defence again, culminating in a save by the keeper.
And if that was bad then Spike’s chance was just desperation on a stick. Also in a one on one, all he had to do was shoot the ball in the general direction of the goal. To say he fluffed it is like saying Mitt Romney screwed up the Presidential election. With so much time and space to place that shot, Spike sliced it, the ball looking as though it may well have gone off for a throw. Certainly the ref and lineman had a good look at each other trying to work out whether to award a throw or a Sanchong goal kick.
Thankfully though missing these opportunities did not matter in the end, as the Lions didn’t exactly romp home, but did what was needed to be the only team left in the BML yet to concede a goal this season.
But the next game… well that’s Hong Min. And the Lions will not be allowed any complacency there!
Oh, and Clovis managed to avoid getting kicked in the face this time. Bitches. As he himself would say, “Jajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajajaja”