The Sapling Cup group stage continued with the second round this weekend, as one game was played in each Group A and Group B on Sunday, December 16th. Kitchee came out as easy winners with a 5-0 win over Hoi King, while Tai Po edged past Eastern with a 2-1 victory.
Both Kitchee and Hoi King started three U22 players, including Kitchee’s 16-year-old left winger Chan Shinichi. Hoi King’s top scorer Chris Annan and Kim Dong-jin could not face their parent club due to loan terms, but 19-year-old fellow loanees Sebastian Buddle and Mark Swainston both made it into the starting line-up. Similar to their last match-up in the league, Hoi King held Kitchee to a goalless first half, thanks to heroic saves from Paulo Cesar who kept denying Jordi Tarres, Matt Lam and Josip Tadic.
In response, Kitchee put on top scorer Lucas Silva after the break, and it only took him three minutes to break the deadlock, as he tucked in Cheng Chin-lung’s pass from the left. It was Lucas Silva again who went unmarked in the box and sent Josip Tadic’s pass into the bottom right corner. Just two minutes later, Nando Recio headed in a Cheng Chin-lung corner at the far post. Another two minutes later, Yuto Nakamura sent the ball into the net, following Paulo Cesar’s block on Josip Tadic’ close range attempt. After the quick consecutive goals, centre-back Helio made his highly anticipated return after his injury in the North Korea-Hong Kong game in March 2018. Meanwhile, Lucas Silva proved himself too difficult to be handled by Hoi King’s defense, as he drew a foul just inside the box in the 86th minute. Matt Lam converted the resulting penalty to make it 5-0.
Later in the afternoon, Tai Po first took the lead around 15 minutes into the game, as Yeung Chi-lun’s powerful and long throw from the right was headed in by Eduardo Praes. Eastern’s equaliser in the 29th minute was also initiated from a long throw, as an unmarked Everton Camargo received the ball at the corner of the box before smashing it past Tsang Man-fai into the net. Tai Po complained about the goal as Wong Cho-sum was down injured during that time and cleared the ball accordingly. Eastern then scored from the resulting throw-in directly. The referee dismissed any controversy and allowed the goal to stand.
Eastern had their chances to add to the scoreline, but neither Robson’s freekick nor Diego Eli’s header could get past Tsang Man-fai, who did brilliantly to keep the score even. With three minutes remaining in regular time, Yeung Chi-lun’s shot was stopped but not cleared by Chan Ching-him. David Lazari was there first to follow up on the loose ball and sent it home to give Tai Po the late 2-1 winner.
With an extra game played, Kitchee currently top Group B with 4 points, while Tai Po climb to second place in Group A, on same points but behind Dreams, as they have lost to them in the previous Sapling Cup match. The other two fixtures of the second round will be played on December 30th and January 1st respectively.
Hoi King 0:5 Kitchee (December 16th 2:30pm, Sham Shui Po Sports Ground, Attendance: 574)
Eastern 1:2 Tai Po (December 16th 5:30pm, Tsing Yi Sports Ground, Attendance: 557)