Get out the Slip and Slide
Sunday 25 May, CQIFC Vs A Statin Media: Rain Stopped Play
Chongqing International Football Club played A Statin Media at Lianglukou on a rain soaked Sunday afternoon.
Inexplicable regulations prevented players from using fully studded boots; in continued downpour on an already sodden pitch, the Exiles were akin to ducks on ice. Conditions prevented our elite band of brothers from their usual playing style – flowing total football – and reduced them to Stoke-ish agricultural tactics on an agricultural field.
In the early period there was little possession to speak of; the front pairing of Hooman and Michael received just sporadic and sprawled service,and were unable to make any headway. Kearney was putting in a shift at midfield; although, with muddy dives and comical slips the game at times resembled an episode of Total Wipeout.
China is not known for its open media, and this one proved no exception, with a solid back four unruffled by either the volley of long balls or the weather, the locals appeared to be benefiting from a relatively lower centre of gravity..
Their competitiveness created chances early on, and keeper Brad was kept on his toes by a through ball, fortunately reading the game well and rushing to deny the onrushing striker, and scooping an area the size of Wales from the pitch in the process.
Halfway through the first half the Media’s right wing journalist enjoyed relative freedom of movement and cut past several defenders who could but slump embarrassingly into the mud, and scooped the ball over Brad and into the upper left corner to make it 1-0.
Unable to regroup and retain possession the Exiles were soon under pressure again, and conceded a soft penalty in which the striker was more stuck in the mud than unfairly impeded. However, Brad's gravity defying leap and strong hands kept the deficit down to one, and fans on the sideline were heard to comment on the similarities with the leap of a youthful salmon in the upper reaches of a Scottish bairn during mating season.
In was a late wake up call for CQIFC, who battled for more possession, forced two corners and had Hooman come close with an effort from the left hand side of the area. They appeared to have the momentum when the whistle went for half time.
But with no letup in conditions, the second half saw more of the same. The game descended from tragedy to farce and the pitch was starting to resemble the Somme, with CQIFC players seen dropping to the ground like soldiers in the first wave over the top.
A shining light in his first game was Alphonse who put in a very solid performance at left back, showing tenacity in defence and creativity going forwards. Also seen to burst beyond the front pairing was Veser, filling in as a very-free-roaming centre back on the day.
The Statins continued to cope better with the conditions and keep the Exiles’ with their backs to the soggy wall. And when a short ball through the middle found a frontline journalist he slipped it past the Exiles' incoming keeper. 2-0.
With twenty minutes to go the outlook for the Exiles was as ominous as the weather forecast. Fresh legs offered a boost but not break the deadlock. At the 90 minute mark there was a sense of a thoroughly unenjoyable afternoon all round.