The race for the division one title is reaching the business end of the first half of the season, and with some huge games to come at the top of the table, it will be a gruelling schedule as the top teams face each other in the coming games. In the latest round of fixtures, Scottish Stags, DBFC, Tropicana and Wanchai Spartans all won so it’s as you were with the top four separated by four points. At the foot of the table, the bottom four all lost, leaving Soho Sparts and J-Leagues as the bottom two, four points adrift of Goodfellas and Eagles.
The games themselves in round nine were generally fairly routine wins for the top four, with the closest game being the all-Scottish derby which took place over the cup weekend. Scottish Stags started much the better in the first ever inter-club game between the two sides, racing into a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from J Sullivan, Miles Winter and an OG. However, on a terrible pitch, it was Eagles who fared best after the interval with George Fenwick and John Brandon dragging them back into the game. Ultimately, Stags managed the game well in the last 15 minutes to secure all three points with the 3-2 win.
Next out of the top four to play were third placed Club Tropicana, who played J-Leaguers for the second week in succession after knocking them out the cup the previous weekend; the league game saw the same 3-0 score-line. Tropcis were surprisingly quickest out of the blocks, the 1pm kick off time showing no signs of distress as is usually the case. Olie Watson raced down the right and sent in a sublime cross for the head of Kyle Wagner to put Tropics one up. The Japanese team were very neat and tidy in possession but toothless up front, whereas Tropics were clinical in front of goal. The second goal also came down the right flank, though this time it was the boot of Nico Staffieiri who picked Wagner out for his second. The second half was played out in similar fashion to the first, with Tropics allowing their opponents more possession but creating the better chances. The third goal eventually arrived and was as ugly as the first was radiant; Kalpit Narvekar scrapped the ball home from close range, and the game finished 3-0.
Playing straight after Tropics were league leaders Discovery Bay, and they had no issues in disposing of Soho Spartans with a 7-0 whitewash. Admittedly, the game could have panned out differently had Soho converted one of their many opening chances, but their profligacy in front of goal was punished, and some, by the leagues fiercest attack. First, David Rollinson scored from a corner then K. Korani made it two before half time. In the second half, DBFC took control and added a further five goals in a dominant display. Korani got his second, and there were goals too from B Ortega, Amit C, James Chan and Makito Shirahige.
Rounding off a perfect weekend for the top 4 was Wanchai Spartans, who overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat Irish Harps 5-3. Liam Grant put the Irish one up, but Sparts levelled straight away. Grant’s second and an Ian Killoughery goal had Harps 3-1 ahead but a goal just on half time made it 3-2 at the break and gave Wanchai Sparts the momentum in the second half. The chat at HT to keep calm, and the chances would come paid dividends as some fine build up play and superb finishing saw Sparts add three more in the second half without reply, all be it more of a basketball style game at times. Yann Guermeur was the hat-trick hero for Sparts, while Oli Baijings and Ali Thompson were also on the scoresheet, as always.
Two other games in mid table to round up, the first of which was a mid-week thriller that saw Corinthians escape with a point despite going 3-0 down to HK Krauts. Bursting out of the traps, a header from a free kick, a rebound and a counterattack had Cors in shell shock early on, Florian Puchinger (2) and Martin Lager getting the goals for the German outfit. Cors though fought back as first Alec Kotakis scored with a header from a corner, then Ryan Weyman tapped home from a long throw. 3-2 at HT, and a scrappy second half affair saw Krauts miss a penalty which was punished as Max Brackenbury scored a peach from 25 yards to snatch a point for Corinthians after an enthralling 3-3 draw.
On Monday night, KCC Cavs overcame Goodfellas 3-1 in a fairly comfortable win at the park of kings. Experimenting with three at the back was a decision that backfired for Fellas as they shipped two early goals to G Pansorta and Jason Jeyam. Ishwan Randawe got Fellas back into the game and they could have equalized before the interval. Cavs though controlled the majority of the second half and got their just rewards near the end as George Yang added a third.