The group stage of the Sapling Cup continued over the New Year holidays, with R&F and Lee Man notching their first victories of the tournament in their respective group matches.
On Sunday, December 30th, R&F defeated Yuen Long 2-1 at Mong Kok Stadium to bag all three points in this Group A contest. At the 16-minute mark, striker Yuen Chun-sing intercepted Yip Ka-yu’s goal kick and beat him with a shot from sharp angle, giving the opening lead to the Guangzhou side. Missing top-flight action for nearly three weeks, Yuen Long equalized 13 minutes later via Jean Moser, who picked up the rebound from captain Yip Tsz-chun’s shot. The game-winner came with 20 minutes left on the clock, when 18-year-old sapling Li Cheuk-hon fired it home from the edge of the penalty box, also marking his first tally of the season.
In Group B, Lee Man shut out Pegasus with a 2-0 win and collected all three points in their Sapling Cup debut on January 1st. While chances came at a premium on both sides, the Bees opened the score 28 minutes into the game, when Pegasus’ Rosen Kolev committed a hand ball in the box, and Stefan Pereira’s spot-kick sent goalkeeper Leung Hing-kit the wrong way for a one-goal lead. Pereira even made a bit of history, as his goal was reportedly the first one in the new year across the entire globe. Lee Man made it 2-0 after the break, when Leong Ka-hang, who received Pereira’s cross, easily tapped in at goal mouth. After this decisive goal, the Bees emphasized on keeping the scoreline and defended well over the remaining minutes.
After two games played, R&F move to the top of Group A with four points, followed by Dreams and Tai Po with three points each. Eastern and Yuen Long, at fourth and fifth respectively, remain without wins as of now. In the other group, Kitchee are on top with four points, while Lee Man and Pegasus are at second and third, followed by Southern and Hoi King. The next Sapling Cup round is scheduled for February 2nd and 3rd in 2019.
Yuen Long 1:2 R&F (December 30th, 5:30pm at Mong Kok Stadium, Attendance: 669)
Pegasus 0:2 Lee Man (January 1st, 2:30pm at Mong Kok Stadium, Attendance: 666)