DBFC Vets 3 – 1 Happy Valley Spartans

3rd May 2023 at Hong Kong International School, Tai Tam with 20:15 ko.

Squad: Bradders, Shung (Kwan), Riggers, Tita, Nik, Pius, Steven, Ka Wing, Crommy, Sammy, Mahenya, Justin, Lik (Nick), Man Chun, Anago and Kieran Chan.

Scorers: Mahenya, Man Chun and Nick (Lik)

This was the 13th of the 16 league games left to play this season and a win against the in-form HV Spartans was a must if DBFC Vets were to maintain their lead at the top of the Legends League table. During the preceding week, there was a poor confirmation of available players and on Wednesday morning (day of the match) there was only 11 players signed up and Gaffer Gaz called in help from back up players and it was Anago and DBFC stalwart Kieran Chan (birthday boy) that offered to help, so up to 13 players. Then in the early afternoon, Ka Wing confirmed Kwan would come and San advised late afternoon that Nick would come with new signing Man Chun, so suddenly DBFC had a very healthy 16 players.

All players arrived with time for a warm up and team photo (Pius missing for toilet visit). Gaffer Gaz announced the line-up and the tactics to start. Bradders in goal, Tita and Riggers CB, Kwan RB and Nik LB. Pius, KS wing and Steve Lang to look after midfield to allow Crommy LM and Sammy RM to be more attacking to support Mahenya as lone striker. From centre midfield Steve was to be the more attacking.
The tactic worked a treat for the first 20 minutes with DBFC dominating with attack after attack with some fine passing on both flanks and Steve getting into so great positions forward. Deservingly, after 8 minutes, DBFC took the lead when a cross was pushed on and Mahenya chased it down, turned his marker and charged in to the goal to score with a bullet shot from a very narrow angle. DBFC 1 nil up.

Chances to score after that came thick and thin but some slow reaction time by DBFC players in front of goal and bad luck prevented a further goal. After, 20 minutes DBFC Vets took their foot off the pedal and their pace dropped to allow HV Spartans to press forward pumping the ball into the box, which Bradders was keen to punch rather than catch. One punch, about 15 yards out of goal travelled to a HV Spartan’s player some 30 yards out and he immediately sent it back high. Bradders was scrambling backwards towards goal and as the ball dropped perfectly under the bar, he couldn’t get off the ground to get his hand on it and Tita couldn’t get his head on it to save the day. DBFC 1 – 1 HV Spartans on 23 minutes

From the restart, HV Spartans started pressing again, and after the ball bounced around in midfield with HV Spartans getting the luck to win the ball each time, frustration got to Pius who made a rash tackle from behind the HV Spartans, some 25 yards out and the DBFC defence in shape so no real danger, he got a toe to the ball as he went to ground but the follow through and the Spartans player’s momentum brought him down. The referee immediately brandished a red card on 25 minutes; there was no doubt it was a foul and yellow card but Gaffer Gaz felt it was a harsh decision given that Pius had been without any controversial play before then. Pius had been dominant in the middle of the park for DBFC therefore this sending off was a blow to the team. HV Spartans tried immediately to press home their player advantage but DBFC Vets held firm to get to half time 1 -1.

At half time Gazza made the decision to go with 3 at the back (Nik, Tita and Riggers) midfield (Justin, Ka Wing, Nick and Kwan) and two up front (Mahenya and Man Chun) and strict instructions that the 4 in midfield stay tight and LM and RM stay deeper. The 2 attackers to have free range up front. The tactic worked and DBFC vets were passing the ball and all working hard to cover. After 20 minutes of second half DBFC Vets got their second goal with a break forward on the left, taken by Man Chun who turned it to the Spartans by-line for Mahenya to come across to help. Mahenya turned inside along the by-line and passed out to the edge of the six-yard box where Man Chun had come inside to receive the return pass and side foot the ball into HV Spartans goal. DBFC 2 – 1 up with 60 minutes gone.

Happy Valley Spartans turned on the pressure to try and recover and take advantage of the extra man. DBFC’s three defenders worked extremely hard defending and the four midfielders kept a tight shape to shield the defence and also worked hard with gut busting ups and downs. Man Chun and Mahenya also worked hard to get on to the forward balls and hold them to relieve pressure on the DBFC back line and always looked threatening with their pace. DBFC’s work rate was rewarded on 75 minutes when the ball was played from DBFC midfield down the left for Man Chun again to push forward and Mahenya again to come across to help. Some neat passing between the two forwards had Man Chun receiving the pass back along the throw line and crossing into the left of the 18 yards’ box for Nick, coming forward from midfield, to meet and side foot a pass-shot across the goal that sneaked in at the far post and give DBFC a 3 – 1 lead.

With 5 minutes left DBFC Vets sat deep to see out the game. A great win under the circumstances and a fantastic team performance, where all players left HKIS with a completely empty tank. A disappointed Pius raised a smile of relief that his team mates got the win but thoughts turn to Steve Lang who came back on in the second half and 3 minutes before the end twisted his knee and was carried off. He took himself to hospital where they suspect a strained MCL and kept him in overnight. He awaits the MRI result with fingers crossed it is not a MCL tear. Without saying, all at DBFC are wishing Steve all the best for a good result and quick recovery.