This battle between North and South on a cool winters evening in Yuen Long Stadium had all the makings of a classic encounter on paper, but sadly, the spectacle that ensued did little to capture the imagination of the 1,500 strong crowd in attendance, with this mid-table clash ending in a bore 0-0 draw.
The opening proceedings were a cagey affair, with neither side managing to exert a dominating influence in terms of possession. The best chance of the opening minutes came courtesy of Southern’s Japanese striker Tomoya Uchida, whose dangerous free-kick into the area was calmly gathered by Pang Tsz-kin in the Yuen Long goal. At the other end, the home side had a penalty claim turned down, as Yiu Ho-ming burst through on goal only to be denied by a last-ditch tackle from Sham Kwok-fai. The referee correctly ruled it to be a fair one. However, the main talking point of the first half was indeed regarding the match officials. Yuen Long supporters were rightly aggrieved at the referee’s decision to leave a foul on Ngan Lok-fung go unpunished, a tackle which left the young midfielder on the ground visibly injured. A free-kick by Ticao soon after was met by a glancing header from Luciano Da Silva in what proved to be the last chance of the half. The Brazilian centre-back sent his effort just wide of the target, and the two sides went in at the break to a chorus of boos from the home support, aimed at the referee in relation to the aforementioned incident.
Thankfully for the fans in attendance, the second half proved to be a slightly more engaging affair. Yuen Long’s Yiu Ho-ming came close after ghosting in at the back post and sending an effort just wide of the mark, before Aleksandar Randelovic had a chance of his own, sending his shot wide after being put through on goal by an exquisite Ticao pass. If the Yuen Long supporters felt hard done by in terms of refereeing decisions, Southern were to feel twice as aggrieved soon after, as the referee was forced into making a judgement call regarding a ‘ghost goal’, without the luxury of goal-line technology to assist him. The incident in question involved a deep cross by James Ha which was met by a marauding run from Shay Spitz, whose shot appeared to cross the line before being hacked away. Needless to say play continued, and the deadlock remained unbroken. A serious of desperate attempts on goal over the next few minutes summed up what was a frustrating afternoon for both sides, while James Ha and Tam Lok-hin were both sending ambitious long-range strikes flying over the bar at either end. This frustration reached its peak when Yuen Long were reduced to 10 men with fifteen minutes left on the clock, when Ngan Lok-fung kicked out in response to what he had perceived as a foul moments earlier. He was awarded a straight red card for his troubles. Tsang Chiu Tat responded by sending on Lau Ho-lam to shore up the midfield, and the rest of the game was played out without incident. On the balance of things, a draw was probably a fair result between these two evenly matched sides, although Yuen Long will probably have been a bit more satisfied considering Southern’s recently impressive form.
YUEN LONG: Pang Tsz-kin, Lau Ka-ming (Lau Ho-lam), Law Chun-ting, Ticao, Stefan Pereira, Ngan Lok-fung, Yiu Ho-ming (Tam Lok-hin), Fabio Alcantara (Wong Yim-kwan), Chan Hin-kwong, Luciano Da Silva, Alexander Randelovic.
SOUTHERN: Tse Tak-him, Sham Kwok-fai, Shay Spitz, Lau Hok-ming, Diego Garrido, Wellingsson De Souza (Tomas Maronesi), James Ha (Leung Tsz-chun), Chan Kong-pan, Roberto Fronza, Marco De La Espada, Tomoya Uchida (Dieguito).