Saturday 15 September 2012 saw Summer Palace resume hostilities with long-term fatigable foes Chaoyang Park Rangers. While many of Beijing’s residents were protesting over the sovereignty of some rocks in the East China Sea, the only prize on Palace’s agenda was 3 points from Division 1’s second round of fixtures.
The battle began with Palace controlling possession and territory well; CYPR were limited to brief incursions around the perimeter. The contest looked to be heading in only one direction, surely only a matter of time until Palace’s pressure told and the break-through made. CYPR aren’t deterred so easily however and their hopes of achieving victory were briefly kindled when a foray down the right and volley into the area caused utter confusion amongst the Palace defense, allowing CYPR’s front-man to draw first blood. Palace’s resolve was swiftly demonstrated, a devastating counter saw Andy Mo’s piercing long ball dispatched emphatically by Jason Kaye and the state-of-play resumed.
Palace’s half-time mandate was clear: preserve the status quo. The game resumed with Palace tapping into reserves of energy unavailable to their opposition. Within minutes the men in yellowish gave themselves the upper-hand, patient build-up play on the right led to a ricochet falling kindly for Wim to strike clinically into the bottom corner, 2-1. The fight was leaking out of CYPR and Summer Palace soon took a stranglehold on the game. CYPR’s defensive blockade had proven resilient in the face of wave after wave of Palace attacks but concerted pressure around their area saw the ball fall to the onrushing Jason Kaye who thundered a left-footed half-volley past the keeper. With the wind truly taken out of CYPR’s sails, Palace added a fourth. Elliot released Ben down the left while CYPR’s right back was napping, leaving a clear run to goal for a toe punt finish. CYPR continued to battle, though quite who they were fighting for the fifth was known only to them. Rowan’s inswinging corner was headed out of the keeper’s hands by one of his defenders to the back post where two more defenders succeeded in clearing out each other, allowing fox in the box Peter a composed tap in. With victory assured, it was all aboard the Palace showboat for number six. Measured build-up play created space for Mike on the right, he cheekily nutmegged one defender before squaring to Barrie whose touch and flicked back-heel found Rowan alone at the back post to calmly place the ball into the bottom corner.
Victory celebrations included congratulatory messages from Ai Wei Wei and MOM and DOM awards for Peter Headden and Jason Kaye, respectively; Peter’s for his commanding performance in the defense and Jason’s for forsaking defensive duties in favour of gung-ho attack.