edited by Jeff Hardbattle
The end of the season is fast approaching, and all of the Premier League teams are now into their final five fixtures with everything still to play for.
On Saturday afternoon, Yuen Long kicked off proceedings as they welcomed reigning champions Kitchee to Yuen Long Stadium, before league leaders Eastern were looking to heap more misery on relegation candidates Rangers as they met at Mong Kok Stadium later in the day.
On Sunday, bottom-of-the-league Wong Tai Sin were hoping to build on last week’s shock victory against Southern as they faced Dreams at Hammer Hill Sports Ground, and Pegasus and Southern rounded off the weekend as the battle for the AFC Cup playoff spots gets tighter. Tobias Zuser, Matt Worth, Jacob Panons and Aaron Au round-up the action.
YUEN LONG 0:1 KITCHEE
(Match report by Tobias Zuser)
(Kitchee goalscorers: Sandro 73′)
Just a few hours before kick-off, Kitchee officially announced a resignation settlement with troubled coach Abraham Garcia. In spite of recent victories in both AFC Cup and Premier League, he left his post after just 8 months and Kitchee veteran Chu Chi Kwong was asked to take over on an interim basis, facing quite a tough situation in his first match against Yuen Long.
With both Jordi Tarres and Fernando being currently injured, the sky blues had to start with a drastically weakened starting line-up that failed to pose any real danger for the first 30 minutes. Instead, the boys from the New Territories put pressure on the reigning champions, with attempts from both Stefan Pereira and Aleksandar Randelovic.
At the start of the second half, Rufino Segovia replaced a rather passive Lam Ka Wai and helped to foster a more aggressive style of play. However, it took until the 73rd minute for Kitchee to make their mark, when Sandro picked up a bouncing ball behind Yuen Long’s defensive line and hammered the volley right into the back of the net, leaving goalkeeper Chu Yiu Ming with no chance.
The absence of key players has definitely played a role in this hard-earned win, but nevertheless, Kitchee managed to bag the three points and keep the theoretical possibility of winning the title alive – at least for another week. Yuen Long, on the other hand, has been pushed even deeper into the relegation vortex.
DATE AND TIME: 2:30pm, Saturday 5th March, 2016
STADIUM: Yuen Long Stadium
EASTERN 4:0 RANGERS
(Match report by Matt Worth)
(Eastern goalscorers: Lugo 3′; Moreira 37′; Fronza (OG) 57′; Giovane 88′)
Struggling Rangers were consigned to the bottom of the Premier League as Eastern reasserted their leadership of the Premier League. Mong Kok Stadium witnessed a true game of two halves, with the caveat that Eastern won both with ease. Two goals in each period were enough to quash any notion of a honeymoon period for interim Rangers coach Yan Lik Kin. Eastern‘s superiority in the first half was tactical as much as technical, with the home side able to spread the play and bridge the gap between midfield and attack. The tone was set after only three minutes when Michel Lugo found the net, driving home a rebound from the edge of the area after good work on the left had freed Giovane da Silva. Rangers‘ deep-lying defence gave Eastern space to play, with Xu Deshuai offering plenty of threat as he switched between winger and shadow striker. Xu went close on 26 minutes, a low cross from the left evading the entire Rangers defence to find him outside the far post, though his drive was stopped by Siu Leong in the Rangers goal. Siu’s counterpart Yapp Hung Fai was called on to block Ernesto Sanchez’ shot after a quick counter attack. The blues then stamped their authority on the game with a similar goal to their first. Rangers cleared a left wing cross in the 37th minute, only for Diego Eli to emphatically drive home the rebound.
The second period was as compact and fractious as the first had been fluid and expressive. Rangers succeeded in pushing up to squeeze the play, but this only encouraged Eastern to deploy through-balls. Roberto Fronza then gifted the home side a third goal by putting the ball into his own net. The Brazilian defender found himself wrong-footed after a goalmouth scramble, his haplessness a metaphor for his whole team. Shortly afterwards, Xu was finally able to get his reward for tireless work on the right when Giovane headed home his cross for a late coup de grace to seal a 4:0 victory for Eastern. Rangers appear bedraggled, and with former basement-dwellers Wong Tai Sin finding a new lease of life, they now sit bottom with four rounds to play. Eastern‘s win puts them one point clear of Kitchee at the top of the table, with two games in hand.
DATE AND TIME: 2:30pm, Sunday 5th March, 2016
STADIUM: Mong Kok Stadium
WONG TAI SIN 3:2 DREAMS
(Match report by Aaron Au)
(Wong Tai Sin goalscorers: Reinaldo 35′; Camargo 55′; Chiu Chun Kit 60′) (Dreams goalscorers: Lilley Nunez 21′; Fukuda 24′)
Wong Tai Sin conceded two early goals in the game, but the Templemen managed to strike back and won for the second time in a row at Hammer Hill Sports Ground.
It was Dreams who struck first, however, through a set piece initiated by Leonidas that Leung Kwok Wai headed onto the cross bar. Nunez was well-placed to pick up the rebound inside the box, and bundled the ball past Wong Tai Sin goalkeeper Cheung King Wah. Just four minutes later, another Leonidas set piece was met by Kenji Fukada, and the 38-year-old’s looping header sailed into the back of the net for his sixth goal of the season.
However, Dreams‘ joy was short-lived, as Wong Tai Sin began an impressive comeback in the 35th minute when Reinaldo brought the home side back into the game, assisted by a perfect cross by Yuto Nakamura from the left that allowed him to head the ball home. Not long after half time, Everton Camargo converted a penalty kick after a Dreams defender had handled the ball inside the box to score his second consecutive goal in the Premier League. The turnaround was complete just a few minutes later, and it was Chiu Chun Kit who won the duel with Dreams youngster Lee Yat Chun inside the box, and his header just managed to cross the line to seal a 3:2 victory for the home side.
In the space of one week, the Templemen now look to have escaped from the relegation battle after securing two straight victories, leaving Yuen Long and Rangers behind them at the bottom of the table. Dreams‘ fairy-tale start to the season seems to be well behind them now, as they slip to sixth in the standings.
DATE AND TIME: 2:30pm, Sunday 6th March, 2016
STADIUM: Hammer Hill Sports Ground
PEGASUS 0:1 SOUTHERN
(Match report by Jacob Panons)
(Southern goalscorers: James Ha 76′)
A goal from substitute James Ha gave Southern a 1-0 win over Pegasus to move up to fourth in the league, ahead of today’s opponents on goal difference. The visitors came out of the blocks strongly, and Michael Luk took many, including Pegasus goalkeeper Naumovski, by surprise when his dipping corner rattled off the top of the cross bar in the 11th minute of the game. Another Michael Luk set piece tested Pegasus’ defence when powerful centre forward, Paul Ngue, looked certain to break the dead lock after a floating free kick found Garrido, who managed to get above the ball to header it down but Ngue’s sliding effort wasn’t enough to beat Naumovski. The home side nearly got their noses in front after a beautifully guided through ball over the top of the defence by Dhiego Martins found Wong Chun Ho, but his volley came back off the post before being cleared away. Ngue once again showed his physical presence when he stormed through the defence to get on to the end of a Wellingsson through ball, but the Cameroonian’s piercing shot just flew wide of the post. Pegasus then stormed up the other end of the pitch, and Fong Pak Lun whipped in a cross towards Lee Ka Yiu who’s header was brilliantly saved by Southern goalkeeper Tse Tak-Him.
James Ha finally opened the scoring in the 75th minute when Wellingsson played a through ball to Ha who spectacularly and clinically chipped the ball beyond Naumovski and into the far corner of the goal to make it 1:0 to the Aberdeeners.
Pegasus failed to crack Southern’s defence in the last 15 minutes of the game, meaning that Southern move up to fourth in the league, one place above Pegasus by virtue of their superior goal difference.
DATE AND TIME: 5:30pm, Sunday 6th March, 2016
STADIUM: Hong Kong Stadium
BOCG LIFE HONG KONG PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE (9/3/2016)
|Team||Game||Win||Draw||Loss||Goal Gain||Goal Loss||Goal Diff||Point|
|7||Wong Tai Sin||12||2||3||7||11||19||-8||9|