Match Report: Summer Palace 0 – 0 Lao Hu Internazionale
Week 3 in the IFFC 1st Division saw Summer Palace go head-to-head with fellow title contenders Lao Hu Internazionale. As ever, the fixture was compelling for its clash of styles- The Lao Hu team boasting energy, technique and movement and Palace displaying age, experience and – as Lao Hu’s youthful ‘keeper put it – “a bunch of massive dicks”.
The match began with Palace snapping into tackles and making their presence felt; in the middle Gab and new boy, Alex were preventing Lao Hu’s central duo from perpetuating their side’s usual passing fluidity. When they did get into exciting areas, Palace’s rotating back-line of Jason Kaye, Peter, Donald, Edu and Patrick were behaving much like the girls on the youngsters’ first awkward dates, “no entry here”. Up top, perennial child abuser, Crouchy was giving their defense a torrid time with his movement and physicality, it looked like it would be only a matter of time until Rowan’s pre-match war-cry of “Make them cry” was realised.
Indeed, after 15 minutes of midfield attrition, Palace were awarded a free-kick 35 yards from goal. Despite Lao Hu’s entire schoolboy side being taller than Ben, Palace were always likely to be most dangerous from set pieces. Gab’s whipped cross to the back-post was turned goal-wards by Jason Kaye only for the ball to deflect off Lao Hu’s ‘keeper and over the bar. Like a teenager’s first clumsy fumblings in the bedroom, his success owed more to luck than judgement. The match proceeded to half-time with much the same pattern of play, Palace creating the odd half-chance and Lao Hu struggling to establish themselves in the game.
The second half commenced with the sun sapping energy from Palace’s tired legs. Lao Hu began to find their passing rhythm but were still struggling to penetrate Palace’s resolute defense. On the few occasions they cut through, they found Jason Dorey guarding his goal more stubbornly than a 16 year-old guards her v plates. While Dorey’s reflexes were frustrating Lau Hu’s strikers, Bobby’s protective refereeing was incensing Palace’s outfield. Crouchy was booked for assaulting a minor – in Crouchy’s defense the boy did put in a reckless challenge and was one of the few who had the audacity to not look petrified when Crouchy threatened to kill him, he needed to learn.
Palace tried rotating the wings in an effort to disrupt the pattern of the game and while the tactic did not create many openings it did allow Blythe to nominate himself for post-match awards by kicking his shoe further than the ball and indulging in a swing, miss and pirouette (not landed) when attempting to cross.
Though the game drew to its conclusion with Lao Hu enjoying plenty of possession but no penetration, Palace created the contest’s final chance. Crouchy held off challenges down the left channel to cross low to the near-post, Blythe’s shot was blocked by a combination of keeper and defender and the ball fell to Gab three yards out. Not usually one to show mercy to the impressionable, Gab experienced a first in his life- being kept out by a teenager’s legs.
The game may have ended in a stalemate, but Lao Hu went back to their homework and Summer Palace went to the pub – there’s victory there somewhere. Voting was an intimate affair with only 4 players present. Boosted by many text votes, Dorey and Edu shared MOM- Dorey for his saves and Edu for his huge tackle (his lady-friend is yet to confirm this rumour) – and Blythe picked up DOM. B52s led to a heavy night out for some and special mention must go to selfless acts made by FCFC players on that night: Donald, for not only knowing 4 single hot girls, but also for bringing them along to Luga’s to meet the team. And Crouchy, whose generosity knows no bounds
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.
In the 2nd half, the Barbs’ keeper continued to make a lot of good saves to keep them in the game and then the ref gave an extremely soft penalty against Blythe for handball (he jumped to clear a corner with his arm across his chest the ball struck his arm having deflected, with no Barbs player within a 10-m radius…). They converted the penalty to level the score at 2-2.
Much like one of Edu’s weekend Sanlitun forays, our cup run began with a bit of nervousness and trepidation, rapidly ascended into breathtaking displays of skill, daring and vigour, before finally meekly succumbing to the realization that we were overmatched by a taller, fitter, and more elegantly named opponent. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
It began at the Cup draw with Captain Ben, brandishing a red beard and imaginary eye patch, boldly selecting our old nemesis, Lao Hu. What better way to test our rigorous offseason training regimen than a match against the reigning Asia schoolboy champions, who subjected us to a 5-2 embarrassment the last time we played?
When game day arrived we realized that they seemed to have added in height what we added in girth, but we quickly taught them that in football guile is perhaps more important than simple physical ability. We were on them from the kickoff, winning possession and launching a series of attacks which culminated in wily veteran Rowan launching in a free kick, which was headed back across goal by not quite so wily nor so veteran Pikey, and then crashed into goal by blind header specialist Jim So. Ben and Elliott continued to boss the midfield and the dazed youngsters gave up another corner, delicately served up by Jim So for returning citizen Wim to head up for debutant Henry to volley home, 2-0 to us before the match was fifteen minutes gone. We took our foot off the gas a bit and they started to get some pressure on goal, but stand-in keeper Jason indeed stood tall, making several good saves before a nice move by their standout midfielder brought them to 2-1 just before half.
In a prescient move Rowan went back to keeper for the second half and reinforcements arrived just in time, as Mike Zheng gave us some legs for the counter-attack even as we were increasingly on the back foot. Shawn and Thilo were massive (in many ways) in defense, repeatedly holding the schoolboys at bay, but an unlucky deflection on a long range shot found its way into the net and we were 2-2 at the gun. Calm, cool Adam Nowak stepped up under pressure for the first penalty kick and responded by not only missing the goal entirely but also by immediately feigning injury. Not to worry though, as we were impeccable from there out, scoring on every kick. After letting the first four shots in to get the measure of his opponents, once and future keeper Rowan settled on the cunning strategy of giving up most of the goal and then diving in the only direction he could, away from his injured shoulder. It worked beautifully as he saved their final kick, and after Shawn converted for us Rowan used the same ruse to save again and win the match for us, 5-4 on penalty kicks. For his offensive prowess and defensive heroics he was the obvious choice for Man of the Match, and while the sartorially-challenged Henry made a run for Donkey, Adam’s penalty gaffe and lame cover-up could not be denied.
Unfortunately, about the next match, perhaps the less said, the better. Facing premier side Vikings would be challenge enough, but while our side was depleted through injuries their’s was strengthened with ex-proffesionals. Nevertheless, spurred on by Patrick’s somewhat innovative take on a pre-match motivational speech, we charged into battle. Perhaps thinking to emulate Rowan, JD decided to save his diving for the post-game penalties, but the strategy backfired as we were three-nil down after half an hour. We continued to work hard and make our presence felt, with Lee Xiong physical in the midfield and Patrick using any means necessary to ensure no one got by him at the back.
Our effort paid off as we had more of the ball in the second half. Wim and Andy Mo created some chances and Crouchie wreaked his usual havoc up front, but our opponents got another goal in against the run of play and the match finished four-nil to them. Despite the disappointing result, there were some highlights, particularly the return of old boy Ben Woodcock, who flashed both skill and speed, though not in quite equal measure. New boy Jason once again proved his on-pitch prowess with his excellent reading of the game and crunching tackles, deservedly taking Man-of-theMatch honors. Unfortunately his off-pitch judgement proved somewhat lacking, as his post-game fascination with our favorite bottle lady/grandmother/mascot’s delectable bits earned him the rare Man-Donkey Double. Strangely fitting.
While our Cup run may have ended earlier than we hoped, a stellar win, the return to fitness of some vets and the impressive showing by new blood will send us into this week’s season opener with great confidence. Palace!
Match report for Summer Palace vs Barbarians B, 11th December 2011, Lido
This was Palace’s last league game to play before the winter break and on that Sunday afternoon it was a relief that the weather was not as cold as one could have feared.
Palace was looking for another win so that Dong Ren would not run away with the league title even before the half-season mark had passed. This game however, was a derby, if one considers that the Barbarians and City/Palace share common roots through Club Football, and the Barbs B are a solid opposition as we had found out in the friendly game we played against them earlier this season (a 1-1 draw).
Fortunately this season Palace has plenty of depth in the squad, and with Charles Wharton and Ally Russell we could welcome back to the team two of last-season high-scoring midfielders.
Early on in the game, Palace had more possession but the Barbs had the best chances to score, and Jason Dorey had to make some fine saves to deny them a goal. For once, Palace wasn’t the more physical side on the pitch and the Barbs were living up to their name with some barbaric tackles and cynical fouls, giving away a lot of free-kicks. It was therefore quite pleasing that they got punished for it as the ref awarded Palace with a free-kick just outside the penalty-box, slightly off the centre, on the left. Then came Jim So, our leading goal-scorer, who took the free kick beautifully as the ball went over the wall with pace and dropped in the side-netting inside the right post. Their keeper had hardly moved. 1-0 for Palace. After opening the scoring Palace dominated the rest of the first half and it with was with confidence that we went into the half-time break during which Jim So left us… to catch a plane for Japan.
Maybe we were a little over-confident, as when the game resumed, it was the Barbs who were looking like the stronger side. Only 5 minutes had elapsed since the re-start and the Barbs had found a equalizer. Jason could only weakly punch away a corner kick, and one of the barbs could head the ball back towards our goal, lobbing our defence from 6-yards. For most of the second half, the game was very close and the tension was high for the Palace’s supporters as, at that stage, it could have gone either way. But gradually, Palace re-took control and
as we entered the last few minutes of the game we were putting the Barbs under sustained pressure. The pressure finally paid off, when Lee Russell was the quickest to take advantage of a goal-line scramble to score the decisive goal. It wasn’t the prettiest of goal but it may proved to be very valuable at the end of the season if Palace is still in contention for the league title. 2-1 for Palace, final score although there was still time for the big oaf that plays centre-forward for the Barbs to get his marching order from the ref for a second yellow card. What a fine afternoon this was!
After the game, most of the team and its supporters went to Luga’s for the customary drinks and votes. Jim So, although not there, got Man again for his beautifully taken free-kick and for Donkey there was a tie as the votes were shared between Adam, Ally and Amir (I’m not sure why, maybe you had to have a first name starting with an A to get voted Donkey that day??).
Match report for Summer Palace vs French LE B, 26th November 2011, Lido
The weather keeps getting colder, but Palace came to the game with a red hot string of results. Joining them on the sidelines, however, were perennial contenders and longtime rivals French LE B. It was the game of the week according to many commentators and many a Chinese person was seen peering through the fence, obviously having been unable to acquire any of the sold-out tickets.
Palace may have felt edgy from all the hype before the game, but captain Ben Roberts found the right words to calm the team and get everyone focused. As a result, Palace came out firing on all cylinders and quickly put their stamp on the game. Palace’s more physical brand of football quickly led to the lion’s share of possession and eventually to Jim So taking a ball from half and passing 3 defenders to put the ball in the back of the net. Almost before French LE could adjust to Jim So’s ability to dribble, he then showed that he is clearly not a one trick pony by bursting past the last man to collect a through ball and calmly finish for his tenth goal of the season. You can’t spell SCORE without S.O. Jason Dorey also showed his class at this point by making a superb one-on-one save. Lee Russell also nearly had a fantastic goal, but his left footed strike off a Giovanni cross caromed of the corner of the goal. Then it was Barrie George up front giving the French headaches from headers, but none of his attempts yielded a goal. Oddly enough it was Ben Roberts who finally found the goal as he directed a cross into the bottom corner with his head. Yes you read that correctly, with his head. 3-0 Palace at the half.
The second half started much as the first had finished with Palace enjoying a greater part of the possession and looking far more threatening. Although none of their chances were converted at first, the pressure was building and the French defense looked ready to concede another. Finally Olliver Chesterman had his opportunity with a ball coming to him in the penalty area. The French keeper could only watch as the ball shot just inside the left post. Regardless of the score at this point French Le B were not going to lay down, and they kept pressing and defending till the end. A great run near the end of the game from Ollie produced the last goal, which Lee R knocked in with his left foot. 5-0 Palace
After watching City come from behind against Vikings, the palace boys went to Lugas where they were soon joined by the rest of the club. After much drinking and fun they voted for men and donkeys. Jim So and Giovanni were voted Men of the Match, with 5 votes each. Lee Russell got Donkey with 5 very ridiculous votes.
For people who like stats:
Palace leads the league in goals against with 6 goals conceded in 10 games
Jim so is the leading goal scorer with ten in 6 games played
Lee Russell has the highest donkeys per game average at 40%