Domestic Cups

Eastern finally win as Bleda returns

Photo: HKFA.com

Eastern’s top scorer of last year, Manuel Bleda, made his return with a brace. Together with Aleksandr Kokko, the Spaniard helped Eastern to secure their first win of the season in the Senior Shield quarter-final against Pegasus on October 22nd at Mong Kok Stadium.

Pegasus and Eastern returned into action from a three-week lay-off since last playing each other in the league, due to their games being called off due to a passing typhoon. Eastern had their forward Manuel Belda back from injury, starting for the first time this season, whilst Cheng King-ho returned as well, replacing Xu Deshuai as right wing back. Pegasus also made two changes in their first XI, with goalkeeper Leung Hin-kit and Jordan Lam Lok-kan starting at the expense of Yuen Ho-chun and Chan Siu-Ki.

However, just 10 minutes into the game, Pegasus’ midfield maestro Joao Emir was injured after almost his first touch of the game and was substituted by Li Ngai-hoi. With an all-defensive midfield, Pegasus’ main threat relied on Jordan Lam on the left wing, who had a few speed battles against Cheng King-ho. But the first goal of the match happened at the other end, when Leung Hin-kit parried a shot straight to the feet of Bleda, who made no mistake to slot it home after 19 minutes. Eastern came close again in the 29th minute when Ju Yingzhi’s freekick just outside the box went wide. Pegasus quickly replied when Jordan Lam delivered a freekick into the box, but Cheung Chi-yung could not get to the end of the far post on time. Meanwhile, both sides got their chances as well as their fouls in this increasingly heated match. Just before the half-time whistle, Awal made a dangerous breakthrough on the left wing, but he couldn’t change the scoreline of 1-0.

Starving for their first win, Eastern kept on pressing forward in the second half with their front three, Bleda, Kokko and McKee, constantly rotating on the sides. The reward came in the 52nd minute with a half-volley screamer by Manuel Bleda from just outside of the boxto make it 2-0.  Eastern almost made it three when McKee’s shot near the penalty spot went wide, with just the goalkeeper to beat. Pegasus coach Yeung Ching-kwok responded with throwing captain Chan Siu-ki in action for Wong Chun-ho, adding an extra man in attack, while Wu Chun-ming dropped to a right-back position. However, this also benefited Lo Kong-wai, who had now more space to deliver several dangerous crosses from the left, only to see his teammates unable to put the ball inside the net. As last substitute for the Flying Horsement, Travis Major entered the field for the last 20 minutes, hoping to repeat his effort after scoring the match winner in the league. Szeto Man-Chun responded immediately and brought in Tse Man-wing and Bai He for Bleda and Cheng King-ho to defend their lead. However, the Blues refused to just sit it out. In the 85th minute, Tse Man-wing’s cross was met by a diving header from  Kokko, but the attempt was cleared by Fong Pak-lun. However, Pegasus could not clear the resulting corner, which gifted Kokko a goal from close range. Pegasus got their consolation goal when Major surged into the box to look for Awal on the right, who eventually beat Yapp Hung-fai to score in the 90th minute. But with just three minutes stoppage time, it was simply too little too late.

Eastern will now face Southern in the Senior Shield semi-final on Christmas day at Mong Kok Stadium.

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