Match report for Summer Palace vs Celtics, League game, 5th November 2011. Chaoyang Stadium
The rain stopped just in time for the league’s curtain raiser of the weekend, the showdown between the league’s ‘lethal-est’ attack and league leaders, Celtics, against the league’s tightest defence, Palace. The game started with Celtics playing their aggressive and physical brand of football, preventing Palace from playing their free-flowing pass and move game. City initially struggled to adapt as dangerous challenges were flying in from everywhere, and the game was in danger of spilling over as Celtics were getting away with some studs up challenges and Palace getting increasingly frustrated with the inept refereeing standards. A Palace goal on 15 minutes managed to calm some nerves, though no one could make out who scored, as Adam chose to coolly stroll back from the melee leading to the goal (Adam was the scorer, if this is still unclear). Shortly after, Ben put in a defence splitting through pass to Olly, who tucked it coolly under the advancing Celtics keeper to make it 2-0. As the half wore on, Palace upped the tempo and their pressure was rewarded with a stunning first time volley (Paul Scholes style) off a corner, hitting the inside of the post and nestling in the top corner of the net, from Gio right at the stroke of halftime, def a nominee for goal of the season. 3-0 HT.
The Celtics started quicker off the blocks in the second half, particularly posing a threat from their giant striker (flicking long high balls)-quick forward combination (Duncan Ferguson kinda stuff), but this was effectively neutralised by Peter, sticking to the tall guy like glue (and irritating the hell out of him). Totally against the run of play, Palace made a quick counter attack with Kieran squaring unselfishly to Amir who tapped in from close range. 4-0 to Palace. As the game threatened to taper off, Palace scored again through another blistering attack down the wing, albeit this time through an O.G as the Celtics defender deflected Ben’s cross into his own net. Palace was about to run riot though, as they turned on the style, moving the ball around, resulting in Nils, putting in a MoM worthy performance, rounding the Celtics goalkeeper Robin Van Persie style and rolling the ball into the empty net. He was not done though, as minutes later, he hit a first time half-volley which hit the base of the post. Celtics were still posing a threat though, coming close with well-taken free-kick that rattled Jason’s crossbar before earning a dubious, soft penalty (by a Peeri Weepu lookalike). Not to be undone, and preserving his awesome Palace penalty record, Jason (nursing a terrible hangover and injured wrist) saved the penalty, but unfortunately for us, the rebound rolled back out to the Celtics forward who put it away, which took some gloss off our scoreline. The game tapered out till the end, as we wish Jason all the best in recovering from the kick he got on his hand from the Celtics forward. Full-Time score Palace 6 – Celtics 1. That result makes us top of the league table (although Dong Ren have a couple of games in hands).
In fairness, it could be said that Celtics fielded a weak squad as they were without their star player Johnny White (who played in goal for the first 15 minutes), and their talismanic fleet footed winger. But this should not take any credit off the Palace performance as all 18 players put in a good game with the goals coming from different guys. Perhaps, Palace’s role model player of the game award goes to Adam, who demonstrated his commitment to the cause by not only tracking the Celtics winger all over the park and also from one end to the other, as the Celtics guy was getting substituted off the pitch! Brilliant! Votes for Man-of-Match and Donkey were in-part done at Luga’s just after the match and in part done in the evening at the Teppanyaki near Gongti. The combined result of the votes for MoM went to Adam, Nils and Peter (with 3 votes each), while Donkey was awarded to Adam alone.