Luck of the Dragon
On Saturday 12 April Chongqing International Football Club faced Hengxin Shuo-tai Day White Football Club at Chongqing University’s C Campus. CQIFC were hoping to bounce back from their first loss in the Shapingba league.
Saturday proved to be the hottest day of the year so far in Chongqing, and it didn’t take long for the Exiles to warm up and take control of the game against Hengxin, dominating the midfield and keeping the opposition firmly ensconced in their own half.
They had particular joy down the left wing, with marauding left back, Marco Veser, linking well with occasional striker, Matt Newton to get behind the opposition's right back; who appeared more interested in the team of Diablo Aunties practicing alongside the pitch. Within twenty minutes CQIFC had hit the woodwork twice, and forced a goal-line save from a surprisingly athletic keeper.
But the Day Whites (playing in, erm, red) always looked a threat on the break, and the Exiles had keeper Brad G to thank when he turned back the years and got down well to save a powerful header from a speculative cross at the half hour mark.
CQIFC then launched wave after wave of flowing attack. A shaky Hengxin had only the woodwork for solidity, and it again kept the Exiles from what appeared inevitable; Matt Miles this time crashing a 25 yard free kick against the bar and goal line before it bounced out to safety. Fate, it seemed, was against them.
Towards the end of the first half Kearney was seen to crumble under pressure in the opposition penalty box. Cries for a penalty were turned away: CQIFC Captain Forrester was the guilty party, with his impossibly pointy elbows forcing his own team mate off with a bleeding eye.
By the start of the second half the sun was bearing down strongly on both teams and the garden allotments at ChongDa. It did not put off the Diablo Aunties, with the constant whirring from their stringed trickery akin to the vuvuzelas of South Africa 2010.
Alas! the quality of the football did not match up. Kearney was back on, but Hengxin started strongly, finding space and time in midfield and breaking up CQIFC attacks with ease; making for a much scrappier game. Hengxin failed to translate their possession into attacking opportunity; with man-of-the-match Alberto reading the game like a book, and repeatedly blocking and heading to safety to keep the scores an even nil.
It was perhaps against the run of play when a CQIFC corner was met by the head of Veser and powered past the keeper, ‘The Mad German’ getting just rewards for his attacking efforts and his third goal in three games. 1-0, and celebrations ensued.
The lead was short-lived. Around the half hour mark the Exiles failed to deal effectively with a Hengxin free kick, a wave of reds at the far post outnumbering the defense and between them bundling a short range header into the back of the net.
Tempers started to fray in the heat, and it nearly boiled over when the Hengxin captain decided to practice his non-text book English on Exiles’ powerhouse center back Luc. Perhaps to preserve a 22 man finish, the referee cut short the renewed attacking efforts from the Exiles and shaved five minutes off the second half. The game ended 1-1. CQIFC could feel disappointed given their longer spells in control of the game and superior number of chances. Roll on next week…