BANTS 100% in DIV 3, EAGLES AND WOVLES FIGHT OUT TOP SPOT IN DIV 2.
Bants Raptors are the only team to have 9 points from 9 following their narrow 2-1 success over The Shooters. Despite going behind, Jeff Leung and Alexis Devaud were on hand to net the goals, with the winner coming late on to leave Bants sitting pretty at the top. Shinichi Ysihimoto was on the scoresheet again for the Shooters, but it was not enough. Dragon Valley FC picked up their first win of the season against BOC’s, with a convincing 4-1 win. Despite being an even contest early on, DV went one up with a Max Remmington goal that was a tight offside call. Nothing debatable about the second and third goals though, which arrived in quick succession making 3-0 the half time score. A James Day goal sparked somewhat of a fightback, but a 4th from DV, which apparently looked more offside than the first, sealed the points. Jimmy Zhang notched twice while the dubious goals panel eventually awarded an OG for one of the Valley goals.
Stray Dogs also banked their first 3 points of the campaign, hounding out the Barbarians by the same score of 2-1. Once again, it was the eventual losing side Barbs who went one up with a Berkan Temir strike. However, the physicality and aggression of the Dogs paid off thereafter and Leo Mimasu equalized before half time. Silvio Jit Ruprah managed to get the winner in the second half, lifting Stray Dogs off the bottom. Lastly in div 3, and once again showing the competitiveness of the league, there was a third 2-1 victory as this time Dong Feng came out on top of Zi Jing. DF went one up after just two minutes, with a left foot lob from Vincent Pang, netting his first goal since the 18/19 season. The score was doubled shortly after, when Hao Le Huang with a nice finish after some one touch football. Both goalkeepers were in fine fettle, pulling off a remarkable save apiece, and Zi Jing would grab a goal mid-way through the second half when Lam Yuen Kwai poked home after s set piece had evaded everyone. Despite creating chances to equalize, DF Express held on for the win.
Onto division one, where DBFC and USRC Gunners maintained their emphatic starts to the season with equally impressive 6-1 and 7-1 slayings of Spartans and Goodfellas, respectively. Discovery Bay went into half time with a slender one goal advantage, but a great near post header from Sparts marksman Oli Baijings had the game all square early in the second half. They shot themselves in the foot however, as an under hit back pass left Matt Zoller with a simple goal, and a soft penalty dispatched by Zoller made it 3-1. Three further goals, two from crosses and a one on one, from Zoller, Ethan Squires and an OG finished off any faint hope Sparts had of mounting a fightback, and with 4 goals, Zoller proving that while not good enough for the YYL, he may just be too good for the LL.
USRC Gunners though remain top on goal difference after their comfortable victory against the Fellas. It was a very close contest early on, with USRC grateful for a fine Adrian So save in the first couple of minutes to keep it at nil-nil. Gradually though, the Gunners wore down their opponents and a burst of pace put Giacomo Galina through for his first goal, while a fine Jamie Hooper run and cross put it on a place for Galina’s second. A great Kieran McBride cross was headed home by Sean Taylor to make it 3 in the second half before Matthew Logan finished from close range to make it 4. Fellas got one back through Vu Pham, but a GK error gifted Taylor his second to make it 5-1. There was still time for the aging Aussie pygmy Michael Boas to curl in a superb goal from the edge of the box after a cheeky nutmeg and a late own goal put the icing on the cake.
Elsewhere, J-Leaguers and Revolution served up a classic 2-2 draw, with a high pressing game forcing the Japanese boys into an early mistake, with Alec Christie making no mistake from the resulting spot kick. An in-swinging corner was met by the head of Yoshimichi Iwata, bringing the scores level. Rev’s thought they had taken all the points after a sumptuous Sam Webster strike flew in under the cross bar with barley 10 minutes left on the clock, but veteran playmaker Shunske Nakamura found a yard of space, and his powerful shot fell kindly to Susumu Hatakeyama, who was on hand to tap in the equalizer leaving both teams to rue missed opportunities to take all three points. HK Scottish Stags got the better of Corinthians 3-1 in a great game on a big pitch. The Stags went one up with a poacher’s finish from Tommy Bartles and sealed the win with a Miles Winter goal in the last 20 minutes. Ray Chang added a third, while Cors had Joey Richardson on the scoresheet and the officials apparently played a 55-minute half, while the linesman showed up for the just final few minutes to collect his full pay cheque!
Club Tropicana made it back to back wins and back to back clean sheets in the process, smashing five past KCC without reply. Despite one of the match officials reportedly being sent packing for his less than glamorous choice of eyewear, and the Cavaliers arriving thinking it was a 1.30 pm kick off, the game went ahead regardless. No word on how the goals were scored, only that Kyle Wagner (2), Joost Van Opstal, Nico Staffieri and Chris Ingham were the scorers. Lastly in the top league, Irish Harps inflicted more misery on Soho Spartans with a 3-1 victory. In an extremely tight game, in which Soho were the better side for long periods, it was the Irish who took their chances. The first was a tap in from Dave Clinton, the second a classy Liam Grant finish as he looped a volley back over his shoulder to give the Harps a two-goal lead at half time. Soho deservedly got a goal with a penalty after some calamitous defending and pressed on for the second. Indeed, they would have found it, but for an unbelievable save from the Irish keeper. Alas, Dave Clinton grabbed his second of the game on the counterattack to keep the Irish unbeaten in third spot while Sohos join KCC in the bottom two, both yet to gain a point thus far.
In division 2 this weekend, HK Scottish Eagles and Wanchai Wolves continued their impressive starts with 7-0 and 2-0 wins against Samurai Blue and San Pellegrino’s. The Eagles soared into a one nil lead at half time and were flying high in the second half thanks in no small part to a late tackle which saw a Samurai player receive his marching orders. Against 10 men after the interval, HK Scottish found it far easier and had three lads (George Fenwick, Sam Wolstenholme and Will Banner) all get a couple while Howard Kelly also chipped in with one. Wanchai Wolves were made to work harder to maintain their winning start to the season, but deservedly ran out 2-0 victors against San P’s thanks to strikes from Alistar Kanaan and Martin Li.
Old Speckled Men came away with all three points from their game against Mes, who started the game with only 10 lads. On that basis, they did well to only go into the break a goal down. A dubious handball decision, as ever, got Mes on level terms as Robert Pauli made no mistake from 12 yards, but Ben Thomson and Joseph Chagas added to Matt Bowman’s earlier goal to give OSM a much-needed win. KCC Royals also emerged from their Monday night game against HK Vikings with their first 3 points thanks to Luca Merlone’s 4th goal in just three outings in a close game that could have gone either way. Vikings were grateful to their keeper for saving a penalty, but they still left empty handed.
Saving the best till last, game of the weekend and write up of the weekend goes to Legal Head after their thrilling 4-4 draw with Krauts, who got their goals from Roberto ‘Beto’ Pacarelli, Max Voigt, Oli Weston and Bjorn Hasse. What a match! I’ll leave it to the LH gaffa Mike Frank to sum up the game in his own words…”Visitors of Hong Kong Disneyland on Saturday may have wished they kept going north to see the real entertainment in the Pearl River Delta on Saturday. A roller coaster match between Krauts and Legal Head ended in an improbable 4-4 draw, settled in the closing seconds by a miracle strike from Legal’s Medhy Souidi. Legal got out to a good start, scoring the first goal with typical brilliance from Jose, the man who was born in a crossfire hurricane. Jose took the ball from half field and streaked down the right side of the pitch, lashing the ball beyond the keeper for a stunning finish. The fans in attendance could be forgiven for believing it would be an easy afternoon for Legal, though they would be corrected just moments later with a second unfortunate penalty in as many matches. A confusing off-the-ball foul led to spot kick for Krauts, who converted to level the match. When asked about the seemingly incidental contact, Conor said, “I pushed him.” Legal’s bad luck was only just beginning. After starting the second half at 1-1, Legal conceded on an organized bit of play from the corner for Krauts. Krauts went on to punish mistakes in transition with some shrewd counterattacking play, expanding their lead to 3-1, then 4-1 off of Legal Head giveaways. Jose went out of the match with an injury and with 20 minutes to go, the situation seemed dire. Krauts were beginning to celebrate their victory, laughing and brimming with characteristic Teutonic joy. But Legal Head never gave up. Some frenzied play from Thomas in the middle of the park rejuvenated Legal and put Krauts on the back heel. With 15 minutes to play, a nice cross to the far post found its way to Adrian’s boot, then the back of the net. The press continued. The ball had taken up permanent residence in Krauts defensive third, and Legal nearly found another when the Kraut keeper heroically parried Deon’s low strike to the near post. Legal threw man after man forward, culminating in another Deon goal, a headed effort in traffic that brought Legal within one. The game was on, and even the fans who had turned away to enjoy their prosecco and chit-chat had found reason to believe the match was not over. With time running out, Legal Head was awarded a free kick on a handful just a yard outside of both the box and the end line. This would be the last chance––Elliott got forward to add another tree in Legal’s redwood forest of attackers. The cross nearly came to Elliott’s head but instead fell to the ground to Mike’s feet, when, in a flurry of activity, Medhy, the man with the armband stepped up to deliver a low strike through the crowd. The ball hit the back of the net, setting off an uproarious celebration on the sideline as Medhy and the Legal’s stormed El Capitan, the mastermind behind La Remontada Legal. The whistle would blow just seconds after the ensuing kick-off and Legal Head completed an improbable comeback to take a point off of last year’s 3rd place team. If this story took place in medieval times, bards would write songs to celebrate its glory.”
Both Veterans league’s kicked off with much fan fare the over 35s Legend League saw USRC 1911 power past BTDT in the opening match of the season with an emphatic 4-1 win at Kings Park Friday Night blockbuster. Gwillynm Cornes scoring a brace to kickoff the new season in style. In the over 45s newly rebranded Godfathers Capo dei capi looked to have settled for dull 0-0 draw against newcomers KCC Veterans before a misfortunate own goal minutes from the end saw their dreams of a point fall away. For KCC Veterans it was all smiles with Captain Dimitri Lamarle thanking everyone and everybody for just getting back on the pitch after the very long break due to Covid.