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HKPL Round 15: Round-Up

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edited by Jeff Hardbattle

Another cold and misty weekend in Hong Kong still managed to serve up a treat from a footballing perspective, as four hugely entertaining games took place while Kitchee sat out of this round of fixtures.
Wong Tai Sin and South China kicked things off on Saturday afternoon after the Caroliners’ dreadful midweek performance in the AFC Cup against Mohun Bagan, followed by a cracker of a game between high fliers Eastern and Southern in a game that could see the blues going four points clear at the top.
On Sunday, basement club Rangers travelled to Sham Shui Po Sports Ground to face Dreams in a match where anything other than a victory would signal serious danger signs that relegation is a real posibility. Their relegation rivals Yuen Long hosted Pegasus in the final match of the weekend. Aaron Au, Matt Worth, Jacob Panons and Tobias Zuser round up the action.


WONG TAI SIN 1:1 SOUTH CHINA

(Match report by Aaron Au)

(Wong Tai Sin goalscorers: Naves Mesquita 63′)
(South China goalscorers: Griffiths 30′)

Wong Tai Sin grabbed a point to defy the odds again at their home ground as South China continued their poor recent form. Meanwhile, Caroliners coach Casemiro Mior faced the consequences and announced his resignation soon after the 1:1 draw.

South China dominated the first half and after several attempts by Félix Borja and Sean Tse, the Caroliners eventually found their first goal in three matches, withRyan Griffiths nodding over Wong Tai Sin goalkeeper Cheung King Wah on the half hour mark. The game continued at a high tempo with a large amount of fouls and tackles and in total, nine players were booked and Chak Ting Fung was sent off for South China by referee Cheng Oi Cho.

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After swapping sides at half time, Wong Tai Sin looked to put bring themselves back into the game and began to push forward towards the South China box more and more. In the 63rd minute, Everton Camergo crossed from the right hand side for Aender Naves Mesquita, who was lurking at the far post, and the 33-year-old midfielder headed it into the corner to level the scores and earn a well-deserved point for his team.

Premier League survival is looking increasingly likely now for the templemen, who have only lost once at home all season. They sit in 7th place, 3 points clear of the relegation zone. South China, on the other hand, look well and truly out of the title race and will be looking to avoid another embarrassment in the AFC Cup on Wednesday night as they travel to the Maldives to face Maziya SC in their first game under interim head coach Ricardo Rambo.

DATE AND TIME: 2:30pm, Saturday 12th March, 2016

STADIUM: Hammer Hill Sports Ground

ATTENDANCE: 962


EASTERN 0:2 SOUTHERN

(Match report by Matt Worth)

(Southern goalscorers: Luk 11′; de Souza 28′)

What a difference a week makes. Eastern, so impressive in thrashing Rangers in the last round, looked short of ideas and endeavour in falling to their first defeat of the season as Southern secured a memorable 2:0 away win. Complacency seemed to beset the home side from the outset, with Eastern adopting a cavalier formation that was wide and high in attack yet narrow at the back. The result was ample space on the wings that their opponents were able to exploit on the counter-attack.

Southern set out early to impose themselves on the game both tactically and physically, Jose Maria’s booking after four minutes for an aggressive foul setting the tone. The away side’s ability to break quickly reaped reward on 11 minutes as an Eastern attack was foiled, with Sham Kwok Fai freeing Ngue on the right, the latter’s precise cross finding Michael Luk who made no mistake to give the Aberdeeners the lead.

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Southern continued to be the more dangerous side for the bulk of the first half, with Ngue continuing to make trouble on the right. The away team were rewarded again after 28 minutes in spectacular fashion when Wellingsson De Souza, deep on the right of midfield, executed a clever turn and moved into space. There was no obvious danger as he shaped to shoot, but he unleashed a swerving strike of rare quality such as would have beaten almost any goalkeeper. Yapp Hung Fai in the Eastern goal was no match and the game was as good as won for Ricky Cheng’s side.

Eastern responded with an immediate spell of pressure but were unable to produce the quick response that might have restored poise and morale. A series of corners around the half hour mark saw Michel Lugo test Southern keeper Tse Tak Him with a dipping drive and Lee Hong Lim also go close; this was to be the only period of sustained goal threat that the blues could muster all game.

Eastern coach Chan Yuen Ting looked to chase the game in the second half, with the introduction of Meyer after half-time and fellow forward Barisic on 73 minutes. Neither, however, could solve the disconnect in their build-up play and, despite the arrival of his comrades, Giovane Da Silva continued to cut an isolated figure at the front. Meyer was wasteful in slicing wide when clean through early in the half, while for the most part the home side’s energetic wing play, particularly from Lee Hong Lim, went unrewarded as cross after cross found no-one in the centre to convert.

Possession went unrewarded for an uncharacteristically guileless Eastern, who after Meyer’s chance never really looked like scoring. The 0-2 final score leaves the blues still in pole position, but perhaps looking over their shoulder, one point clear of Kitchee with a game in hand. Southern remain in fourth place and look bound for a playoff berth.

DATE AND TIME: 5:30pm, Saturday 12th March, 2016

STADIUM: Mong Kok Stadium

ATTENDANCE: 1,438


DREAMS 1:1 RANGERS

(Match report by Jacob Panons)

(Dreams goalscorers: Wong Tsz Ho 37′)
(Rangers goalscorers: Sanchez 31′)

Struggling Rangers let a vital 3 points slip through their fingers in a thrilling end-to-end 1-1 draw with mid-table Dreams.

Rangers went into the match looking to catch up with in-form Wong Tai Sin and looked destined to break the dead lock in the 8th minute when Gomez Sanchez ran through the defence onto the end of a scrappy through ball, but the pursuing Dreams defender did just enough to put him off as he saw his effort deflect off the far post.

Gomez Sanchez finally managed to grab a goal in the 30th minute, after goalkeeper Li Yat Chun’s weak punching clearance from a corner lead to the ball being headed back into the box for Gomez Sanchez to easily header the ball into an open net to make it 1:0 to Rangers.

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The home side’s lead did not last long, however, and second choice Rangers goalkeeper Siu Leong was at fault 6 minutes later when he failed to handle a low drilled cross from Lai Lok Yin, gifting Wong Tsz Ho with a simple tap in to bring the teams back to level terms.

Both teams went into the second half riled up and emotions looked to get the better of both teams with Rangers players Chuck Yiu Kwok and Dieguito the centre of a couple of heated exchanges of words with the Dreams players and the referee.

Dreams looked to have gained some momentum in the later stages of the second half and bombarded the Rangers defence with attacks, and Siu Leong pulled off a spectacular save to keep the scores level and to deny Wong Tsz Ho his and his side’s second of the game. Wong Tsz Ho thought he had scored in the 79th minute, but his effort was ruled offside.

Chuck Yiu Kwok injected some flair upfront for Rangers and he looked sure to score a spectacular diving header in the 82nd minute, but his effort was acrobatically stopped by Li Yat Chun. The forward also displayed his defensive capabilities by managing to clear a great Gallardo header off the line in the closing minutes of the game.

The scoreline remained unchanged, and Rangers failed to gain any points on the other teams in the relegation dog fight as Wong Tai Sin and Yuen Long both managed to secure draws against South China and Pegasus respectively. Dreams continue to occupy 6th place.

DATE AND TIME: 2:30pm, Sunday 13th March, 2016

STADIUM: Sham Shui Po Sports Ground

ATTENDANCE: 551


YUEN LONG 2:2 PEGASUS

(Match report by Tobias Zuser)

(Yuen Long goalscorers: Da Silva 56′; Yip Tsz Chun 90’+6′)
(Pegasus goalscorers: Mckee 58′; Lee Ka Yiu 67′)

In a dramatic Sunday afternoon game, Yuen Long snatched a point with life-saving qualities from Pegasus, in what has become a relegation battle between the boys from the New Territories and Rangers for the remaining rounds.

Both teams started the game cautiously and held up the action until the second half, when Gustavo Da Silva put the Tangerines in front by scoring his first goal of the season.

However, the celebrations didn’t last long, and just two minutes later Jaimes McKee was the lucky receiver of a rebound allowing him to hammer the equalizer into the net. Then it was McKee once again, floating in a cross to Lee Ka Yiu whose looping shot sailed above keeper Chu Yiu Ming, making it 1:2 for the visitors.

Everything looked like a victory for the Flying Horsemen, who tried to play for time at any opportunity. In the 89th minute, Yuan Yang had apparently had enough and pushed down Pegasus goalkeeper Kristijan Naumovskij who seemed to delay the game with an exaggerated injury. Yuan immediately saw red for his attack, and his teammates had to hold him back from inflicting even more damage.

However, the sending off spurred on the Tangerines even more, and in the 6th minute of injury time a miracle happened once again when Yip Tsz Chun converted a well-deserved equalizer to the pleasure of almost 900 fans.

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Following this draw, Yuen Long managed to keep Rangers at bay and are now ranked 8th, being 2 points clear of the drop zone. For Pegasus on the other hand, this was a drastic blow that could put their season play-off spot in danger, as Dreams are lurking right behind them, with one more game in hand. 

DATE AND TIME: 5:30pm, Sunday 13th March, 2016

STADIUM: Yuen Long Stadium

ATTENDANCE: 862


BOCG LIFE HONG KONG PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE (14/3/2016)

Team Game Win Draw Loss Goal Gain Goal Loss Goal Diff Point
1 Eastern 12 9 2 1 26 8 18 29
2 Kitchee 13 8 4 1 24 8 16 28
3 South China 13 7 2 4 21 17 4 23
4 Southern 13 5 4 4 20 15 5 19
5 Pegasus 13 4 5 4 16 16 0 17
6 Dreams 13 4 3 6 17 26 -9 15
7 Wong Tai Sin 13 2 4 7 12 20 -8 10
8 Yuen Long 13 1 6 6 15 27 -12 9
9 Rangers 13 1 4 8 7 21 -14 7

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