Jokers Comeback, Almost
Archjoker nearly eked out a consecutive draw against Grilled Birds in the season's reverse fixture as they fought back from 0-3 down in the first half to 2-3. Tim Hobson
was his usual deadly self as he started the game with a bang, putting two easy chances away in the first seventeen minutes, and should have had a hattrick had he not allowed Pence to take the penalty awarded when Qing-Hong tripped him in the six-yard box. He faded thereafter, and was a shadow of his former self in the second half which belonged to Archjoker's Tang Wu-Fei.
Whereas Hobson got his goals from excellent buildup play from his teammates and was left with little to do but tap in the ball to score, Wu-Fei was a one-man dynamo as he tormented the Grilled midfield throughout the game. Improving on his great performance in the previous draw, Wu-Fei left Siu-Cheung floundering in his wake as he drilled in an unexpected curling shot from twenty-five metres.
That got the home fans behind the team, and Archjoker went from strength to strength as they challenged for every ball, making up for their relative lack of expertise with heart. Grilled were intimidated, and became pinned back in their own half even if they kept the ball for most of the time. Wu-Fei seemed to be flying on his feet, and he won a corner for Archjoker on the hour mark of the game. The corner was cleared by Hobson, but only to Tang Shi-Shuay who passed through the pandemonium of the Grilled penalty area to sidefoot it past Bao-Tam.
The game became picked up pace after that, with players from both teams chasing after loose balls and gathering for tackles like there was no tomorrow. Cards would have gone flying had referee Paweł Kolańczyk not shown admirable restraint, allowing the passion of the game to flow freely. He did however book Archjoker's Tao Ah-Cy for his crunching late tackle on Hobson, and Hobson for throwing the ball at Ah-Cy's body in retaliation. Shwu-chyn ballooned a good chance, and Hsi-ho and Ah-Cy both struck tame shots to Bao-Tam.
Grilled at times exposed Archjoker on the counterattack, and while Dai-Lin's speculative attempt floated high, Lan Tuan-Mu
had the chance of the half when he connected Tom Pence
's cross with a defensive clearing header. His improvised effort was barely clawed out of the top corner by Qing-Hong's last-ditch leap. By the final minutes both sets of players were showing visible exhaustion, yet Wu-Fei managed a last run past Dai-Lin and Tan Ong
and was bearing on Bao-Tam before Tuan-Mu slid the ball from out under him, thus ending a very exciting game.