On a crisp HK winter’s evening, roughly equivalent in temperature to the hottest day on record in Scotland, DBFC finally got the chance to play the game vs. Spartans. This was the game that Gazza had 3 months before assured us in the midst of a downpour would still be on despite the pitch at the time having been absorbed into Tai Tam reservoir.

There was the usual First World war type attrition rate in manpower, a squad of 16 having been reduced to 11, with Fela being called up and Warren getting permission from the missus to join. Gaffer Dirk wisely refrained from introducing too many of the complex training routines or tactical nuances that he has been watching Jay master at Blackburn Rovers, correctly realising that the squad was mostly composed of old dogs completely incapable of mastering new tricks. Instead the team talk was simple – enjoy it, keep possession, and win the 50/50’s.

4-5-1 was the formation with Alessio in goal, Gaz and Dirk as full backs, Kieran Donnelly and Steve W centre backs, Bo as holding mid, Pascal and Thierry centre mids, Pat D on the right, Warren on the left and Kieran ‘Robbie Keane’ McKnight up front. Subs were Kieran Chan and Fela who arrived late. Rather out of character mind since he was in position too early and hence offside for most of the game!!

As far as could be surmised the tactical instruction to Kieran M as lone striker was to come short to gather the ball, and then chase his own pass into the channels. Confusing yes, but still a step ahead of the 10/4 subs line up sent out by Baz a few weeks ago.

Spartans had their usual large squad and were well up for it, as befits the long running rivalry. Both sides had been warned about use of industrial language given proximity of residents – the risk level had in any event  been lowered due to the absence of Morse.

DBFC had a bright opening quarter, retaining possession well, and on a couple of occasions getting in behind the Spartans defence without creating any clear cut chances.  Pascal did have the ball in the net after Pat D slipped a ball through but it was called offside, and Pascal also tested the keeper from the edge of the box. As the half wore on Spartans came more into it with the familiar deep angled crosses but the DBFC defence remained solid. However, having been forced to defend deep it was difficult for the midfield to play their way out and too often it ended with a long ball and lost possession. Changes were made with Fela coming on up top, with Kieran M moving to the right.

However, as the half wore on, most of the entertainment for the spectators involved guessing which team the ref was going to annoy with his next bizarre decision.

0-0 at halftime, and it was agreed DBFC were a little bit quiet (Kieran Donnelly had evidently forgotten

to down his usual 3 pre match Red Bulls). 2nd half kicked off with the same line up except Kieran Chan on at right mid, and the ever versatile Kieran M moving to left back to replace Gazza who’d put in a shift. Kieran was certainly covering all the positions, slowly working his way backwards, but stopped short of donning the keeper’s jersey!

The pattern remained as per the first half, however, with Spartans pressing without being incisive, and DBFC not challenging for enough long balls, let alone winning the 2nd ball. Having said that a quick move on the break led to Pascal surging down the right past at least 2 DBFC players loitering in offside positions, and then slipping the ball inside to Thierry, who looked certain to score until the keeper made a great save to push it for a corner. That was probably DBFC’s best chance of the game, with other chances confined to long shots from Kieran M. Fela shrugged off constant ribbing (kind of good natured) from his former teammates and  threatened on a couple of occasions, including one where the keeper kindly rolled the ball to him; Fela equally kindly passed it back to him. As the half wore on, Spartans started to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and had a number of chances, especially from corners and throw-ins, with DB struggling at times to pick up players. Alessio was in fine form, quick off his line, and the defense held resolute.

The main talking point of the half involved Dirk taking his own instructions to battle for ever ball very much to heart; jumping for a bouncing ball and heading the back of an opposition player’s head rather than the ball, coming off fairly worse for wear, and a rather bloody shirt.

The game ended in a draw – probably a fair result as both sides had chances to win. Always a competitive close game with Spartans, and while DBFC spent long periods without threatening, the defence remained solid. In short a ‘Mourinho’ like away draw, and no shortage of effort.

As the players headed home, the hardcore headed to the Pier Bar for some after game drinks, although Dirk spent the next 3 hours in A&E making sure his dashing good looks had not been affected even with a fractured nose.

Report: Pat D