Tai Po had to come from behind twice to claim a share of the points with Lee Man, who put up a spirited fight and looked dangerous going forward. The 2-2 draw meant that the Greens missed the chance to keep up with the teams at the summit of the table, whilst Lee Man continue their very solid start to the season. Jeff Hardbattle rounds-up the match.
Lee Man lined up for the match in similar fashion to the starting eleven fielded in their 2:1 win over R&F in the Senior Shied Prelimiary Rounds last week, but defender Law Chun-yan made way for midfielder Wong Chun-hin to complete a more attacking look for the Bees.
Tai Po also made a few changes to the side that beat Rangers 2 weeks ago, with midfielder Chan Hiu-fung coming in for Chak Ting-fung, while Sean Tse came back into the side allowing Tan Chun-lok to play in a more advanced role. Striker Yuen Chun-sing started from the bench with Wong Wai and Igor Sartori the preferred attackers in this particular game.
The home side came out of the blocks strongly, and it only took eight minutes for them to put themselves ahead after good work down the left side from Hui Ka-lok. Yuto Nakamura was at fault for failing to clear away the incoming cross, which instead was teed-up for midfielder Jose Victor Dos Santos who smashed the ball into the top right corner despite goalkeeper Tsang Man-fai getting a hand on it.
Lee Man again threatened to build on their lead moments later when Wong Chun-hin collected the ball from a fabulous long through-ball from Jordi Tarres, but the youngster’s curled shot was wide of the post.
Tai Po began to work their way back into the game after the blow of going behind, and there were chances for Leung Kwun-chung, David Lazari and Igor Sartori that weren’t capitalised on, but nevertheless showed the threat of the Green’s attacking potency.
The stalwart home defence was finally broken in the 32nd minute, after a Wong Wai freekick into the box was met by Andrew Russell. His initial side-footed shot was parried away by goalkeeper Felix Luk, but Igor Sartori was on hand to smash the rebound home and restore parity in the match.
Things began to go badly again for the visitors after both Sean Tse and Igor Sartori were substituted due to injury towards the end of the first half, and after the restart the home side made the loss of two of their opponents better players count. Tse Lok-hin put in a long cross into the box with the Tai Po defence nowhere to be seen, and the totally unmarked Wong Chun-hin made up for his earlier miss by slotting home to restore the Bees’ lead.
Tai Po are as of yet unbeaten in the league, and they were not about to sit back and allow defeat to come to them. In the 70th minute, Wong Wai attempted to unleash a shot that was blocked by a defender, but Andrew Russell was able to pick up the loose ball and find Dhiego Martins. The Brazilian was able to lose his marker, and his tight-angled shot was able to beat the outstretched hand of Felix Luk and roll into the net to make it 2:2.
The home side nearly snatched victory five minutes from time, after a Jose Victor Dos Santos effort came back off the crossbar and Jordi Tarres was somehow unable to convert the rebound, but the match finished with honours even.
Tai Po will no doubt be disappointed to miss out on the opportunity to further assert themselves as title contenders, while Lee Man’s debut season in the top flight continues to go from strength to strength.