Check out video highlights and round-up reports for all of the games taking place in the Sapling Cup group stages last weekend!
LEE MAN 0:0 EASTERN
Report: Ben Bennett
The two winless sides in group A of the Sapling Cup remained the same, following a drab 0-0 between Lee Man and Eastern in front of 589 fans at Hammer Hill Sports Ground on December 16th.
Chances were at a premium on a windy day, although it was Lee Man who had the better opportunities in the first half, as Stefan Pereira hit the post from a free kick on 27 minutes and Denis Lima fired over from 15 yards when afforded time and space just inside the penalty area.
Lee Man continued to have the better of the chances in the second half, with Lima dragging an effort wide on the hour mark, whilst Ze Victor saw a header bounce down and up over the bar from a Pereira free kick.
Only when Eastern introduced Manuel Bleda from the bench did they look like scoring and the Spaniard got on the end of a 60 yard pass from Vitor Saba, but could only fire into the side netting. Alex Kokko also stung the palms of Lee Man keeper Yip Ka-yu from six yards, but an Eastern winner would have been undeserved.
The result leaves Lee Man clinging on to their hopes of progressing by a thread, whilst Eastern’s interest in the competition is over for another year.
KITCHEE 1:0 R&F
Report: Patrick Au-Yeung
Kitchee narrowly beat R&F 1-0 in the Sapling Cup on Saturday, December 16th, at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground, thanks to Krisztian Vadocz’s decisive goal. Later in the match, the Hungarian was also sent off.
Witnessed by 423 spectators, the contest was totally dominated by the winning side in the first half, although R&F lined up five midfielders, attempting to stop the opposition early. Dani Cancela produced a lot of offensive work on the left side and delivered some quality passes into the penalty area. He almost scored in the 17th minute, but defender Wu Wei’an cleared the shot off the goal line.
The game-winning goal occurred in the 30th minute, when Vadocz controlled a rebound at the edge of the box. He dribbled through a couple of defenders before beating goalkeeper Chen Zirong with an excellent shot.
In the second half, the game turned into an even battle, as both teams struggled to find ways to take possession. R&F’s only scoring chance of the match happened in the 52nd minute, when their top scorer, Li Rui, broke away from midfield, but his shot missed the net by inches. Kitchee were down to 10 men with 13 minutes remaining. Kitchee’s Vadocz and R&F striker Li collided inside the penalty area, and when Li tried to get up he suffered a kick from the Hungarian, which was witnessed by the assistant referee.
However, despite a one-man advantage, R&F failed to find an equalizer and they suffered the second loss in their second group match. Kitchee, who earned three points, stayed on top of the table with one game remaining in the round-robin stage.
YUEN LONG 1:1 DREAMS
Report: Jeff Hardbattle
Kitchee loanee Harima Hirokane’s late strike for Dreams rescued a point for his side in the first of two Sapling Cup Group matches held at Tsing Yi Sports Ground on Sunday, canceling out Walter Soares Junior’s earlier goal for the Tangerines.
It was Yuen Long who had the better of the clear cut chances in the first half, with Everton Camargo in typically vibrant form and having a shot from a tight angle in the penalty area smartly saved by Dreams’ goalkeeper Tse Ka-wing, and a low cross from the left of the box from the Brazilian found Walter Soares Junior right in front of goal, but the latter’s shot came clattering back out off the woodwork.
Dreams’ best chance of the half fell to Lai Hau-mei, who let loose with an ambitious shot from outside of the 18 yard box that dipped and required the outstretched hand of Tangerines’ keeper Chan Ka-ho to keep it out.
The deadlock was eventually broken in the second half, however, when Walter Soares Junior was left completely unmarked in the Dreams box, and his composure on controlling the lofted through ball towards him allowed him the chance to fire home and put Yuen Long 1:0 up.
It looked as though Tsang Chiu-tat’s side might hang on for the win, but with just nine minutes of normal time remaining, a cross into the box was not cleared by the Yuen Long backline, and after the ball was cleared off the line, Harima Hirokane was on hand to put away the loose ball and in the process seal a point for his team in Group A of the Sapling Cup.
Dreams remain on top of the group due, a point ahead of Tai Po who have played a game less, while Yuen Long sit bottom with just one point gained.
RANGERS 0:3 PEGASUS
Report: Jeff Hardbattle
Pegasus continued their solid form this season with a comfortable looking win in the later game at Tsing Yi Sports Ground on Sunday, in a 3:0 win that heaped even more misery on managerless Rangers.
The game sprung into life not long after the half hour mark, when Rangers’ defender Chung Sing-lam meekly attempted to jump up and head away a dangerous looking ball towards Travis Major, but his laboured rise up was too late and allowed Major to slot home his first of the afternoon.
In truth, Rangers never really looked like scoring, and their afternoon was summed up by a free kick from Lau Cheuk-hin in which he fell to the ground before getting a foot on the ball.
Joao Emir scored Pegasus’ second three minutes before the end of normal time with a thunderous drive into the top right corner after collecting Mahama Awal’s pass, and Travis Major bagged himself a brace moments later when the Rangers defence was again found lacking – this time Tsui Wang-kit being the culprit – with the Australian collecting a long pass just outside the danger area and once again coolly putting the ball away to seal a 3:0 win.
Rangers look an extremely dejected side of late, and their new manager will have a very tough task in rallying his troops to remain in the top flight. They sit third in Group B, while Pegasus move up to second – one point behind Kitchee.
Sapling Cup (Group A)
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Sapling Cup (Group B)
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