In Division 1, there was only one thing left to fight for, survival. Krauts knew a win would put pressure on Forward and the fate in their own hands with the next fixture between the two teams. It seemed Krauts were destined to take the fight into the next round of fixtures having taken a 2-1 with wild celebrations but this only motivated Trops to fight back and tie the game 2-2. Krauts knew their destiny was no longer in their own hands and the news filtered through to Forward and Soho Spartans. Forward knew a point was enough to ensure safety given their healthy goal difference and Soho required a draw to guarantee top flight football again next season.
However, Forward left nothing to chance by taking all 3 points against the already relegated, Bants, in a 3-1 victory. This ensured Forward safety for next season and Sohos were gifted their top flight status in the last few minutes by Corinthians who handled the ball in the box allowing Sohos to convert the penalty and tie the game 3-3. This meant Krauts were relegated from Division 1 with Bants.
Elsewhere, Spartans took revenge on their semi-final cup defeat against USRC to win the game 4-1 and go second in the league on goal difference. Goodfellas and JLeaguers produced a six goals thriller to draw the game 3-3. Finally, DBFC and HK Scots matched the 6 goals but it was 4-2 in DBFC favour.
Division 1 is all wrapped up; no more title challenge or survival fight for the remaining two fixtures so let’s just go out there, enjoy the game and put your striker (who doesn’t run or chase anything) in goal. However, in Division 2 and 3, the title race is heating up!
All eyes were on Happy Valley Pitch 1 as the top two in Division 2 squared off for a showdown of epic proportions. One side unbeaten all season and the other with 15 wins from their last 16 games; the best attack in the league against the strongest defence as the irresistible force of Mes collided with the immovable object of Revo. With Mes starting the day top of the pile, 2 points ahead of their opponents it was all to play for in front of a bumper crowd of WAGs, kids, fans and random blokes with nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon. Revo drew first blood (on a day where there was plenty) when Matt Creighton rose highest to head home the opener early on. In an intense game, sometimes verging on the scrappy, Revo doubled their advantage when Jamie Kelly battled through a couple of challenges before lashing home. Mes began to grow in to the game later in the half and were awarded a somewhat fortunate penalty when the ball struck an arm from close range but justice was done as Revo’s keeper Adam Johns pulled off a great save to keep his side 2 up. There would be no such luck later though as Mes were awarded another chance from the spot. If the first was decision was soft, this was 12 pints deep flaccid as Revo’s defender seemed to get a clear foot on the ball. Liam Kelly made no mistake to ensure his side had something to build on at the break. Second half started similarly to the first with Matt Creighton heading home again to restore a 2 goal cushion. There is a reason why Mes are top though and with time running out and after throwing players forward, a break of the ball fell to David Quimbayo who finished smartly for 3-2 and give his side hope. Then, deep into added time Mes were awarded their 3rd penalty of the match which was duly dispatched by Rob Barratt to equalize with the last kick of the game. Heartbreak for Revo who were seconds away from going top but credit to Mes for not giving in as they celebrated maintaining their unbeaten record whilst edging ever closer to Division 1 in invincible fashion.
Saturday’s draw between the top 2 meant that San Pells could pull themselves level with Revo with a win at Kings Park in their game against KCC Royals. After an even first half that ended goalless, Pells knew they needed to seize the moment and push for the win. With 25 minutes to go the deadlock was finally broken as Richard Bindrup found the back of the Royals net. This seemed to settle the nerves and with an extra gear to find, Austin Tenny and Wandile Qwabe made sure of the result. Despite Royals threatening on the break, they were able to admit that on the day the better team had won. San Pells now finish the season with 2 huge games as they face Revo next before Mes on the final day with all 3 sides still in with a chance of the title, promotion or missing out completely.
Saturday’s other game saw Dragon Valley and Old Speckled Men lock horns with both sides now firmly established and gaining a justified reputation for being difficult to beat. After a pretty uneventful first half, the game sprung in to life when a curling through ball from midfield found its way to Justin Davis who continued his fine form in front of goal by drilling an unstoppable left footed strike low across the keeper, giving DV a lead that was slightly against the run of play. In a proper attritional battle, both defences were putting in solid displays as OSM headed one off the line and DV looked to be holding firm until there was more late drama as a chipped pass in to the box was expertly volleyed in to the far corner from Steve Harrington to ensure the spoils were shared.
In the remaining fixture KCC Cavs turned on the style with a comfortable 2-0 win over Wanchai Wolves. Bennis Wong was able to capitalize on a defensive lapse to give the home side the lead before Ryan Jarvis burst through a couple of challenges to finish smartly and ensure a cushion at the break. Wolves puffed out their chests and held on for a goalless second half but the result was never really in doubt as Cavs gained revenge for the previous meeting which they lost 4-3. Wolves were very complimentary of their conquerors after the game tipping them for promotion next year (after a course of protein shakes).
So on to Division 3 and having swatted aside all challenges since the split, Shui Wei were looking on course to be crowned champions. That is until they came up against Young Guns in what was an excellent game slightly marred by some behavioral issues. Young Guns have already shown this season that on their day they can beat anybody and on this day it clicked as Simon Fan (2) and David Tse helped them to a hard fought 3-2 victory. Niko Nitti and Evan Forrester got the goals for Shui Wei and will leave the remaining points of the write up for the disciplinary committee to discuss.
Waiting in the wings to take advantage were Samurai Blue who could move to within a point of Shui Wei (with a game in hand) if they could see off a resurgent Legal Head. Down to the bare bones due to injuries and absences this was not going to be easy for Samurai though and they duly adapted by ensuring they were solid at the back, allowing their flair players a platform for expression. Youness Aboubker was the first to profit from this as he set off on a mazy solo run before finishing to give his side a 1-0 half time lead. In fairness Legal Head were also suffering with their own absentee issues including missing forwards and a goalkeeper stranded at Lohas Park. After some tactical tweaks, Head came out fired up for the second period and duly equalized when they pressed high to win the ball back before their one remaining forward Michael Frank finished well from a tight angle. The next goal was always going to be crucial and after some neat one touch football it went to Samurai Blue as Rifan Aziz tucked it away to leave his manager purring at the quality of the move. Anshul Maildola then wrapped it up as Legal Head were caught on the break. Tempers flared slightly at the end and although there were handshakes afterwards, this may be one to watch next season.
Vikings were able to put MBFC to the sword as they battered their way to a 2-0 lead within the first 5 minutes. Determined to make a game of it, MBFC hit back almost immediately when Pang Chao whipped in a beautiful 30 yard free kick. This would be the only thing the Mandarin Boys would have to celebrate though as they found themselves 4-1 down at the break as Vikings dominated their opponents. Kasper Nielsen was then able to add a fifth with a ‘beautiful header’ proving modesty is still alive and well in LL match reports. The other Vikings goals were scored by Soren Kargo (2), Abraham Grajales and Darren Tsang.
Last but not least (well actually yes if based on league positions), Shooters vs BOCs was looking like the wooden spoon battle in Division 3. In a refreshing turn of events, the ref team received strong reports from both sides as Shooters were able to manage the game effectively on this occasion. Having had some hard luck during the campaign, the Japanese side were able to revel in just their second win thanks to a 4-0 result here. Koushi Nakayama, Yousuke Kuramae, Hiroshi Uehara and Tsuyoshi Takeuchi shared the goals to lift Shooters off the bottom, leapfrogging BOCs in the process.