On a cold morning,Taipei City engaged with a depleted Fritz Air team. The kick-off was put back thirty minutes to allow enough Fritz Air players to get out of bed. This was frustrating for City given that everybody had assembled right on time. Dawda led an excellent warm-up at 9.45, but the game started at about 10.30. When the game finally started, City fielded an exceptionally strong eleven against a team of eight. The starting line-up was Matt Wharton in goal; a back four of John Philips, Tim Murphy, Yunusa Njie and Ross Conlon; Ed Cartee and Steve Reymond on the left and right flanks, with Mike O’Gorman and Ebou Njie in centre midfield; and, Badou Njie and Dawda Fatty up front. The new, experimental formation was looking for a real test, which the opposition didn’t really provide. Nevertheless, to their credit City took the game seriously and played well from the whistle.
With only eight players for the first twenty or so minutes, Fritz Air defended en masse, blocking out space in their own penalty box where they were happy to sit. City piled on the pressure looking to get the goals, but needed some time to warm up properly again themselves (having waited half an hour after their pre-match warm-up). Pinned back, Fritz Air were obviously waiting and hoping for their team-mates to arrive. Ironically, in the course of the first half as more Fritz Air players turned up City just kept getting better. The first half saw great goals from Yunusa, Tim and two from Badou. With the score 4-0 at half-time, City were satisfied.
The second half saw Alex Ramirez come on for Mike in midfield and Matt Wharton moved out to defence to replace Ross with the arrival of regular keeper Dale Neal. Later, Christie came on for Ebou. Fritz Air scored a quick goal but then City very quickly scored some more. One of the best goals ever scored by a City player was a Dawda chip over the head of the diminutive Fritz Air goalkeeper. The ball literally sailed into the top of the net. Then, a little later, an equally memorable goal was scored by Badou, who fabulously tackled a Fritz Air defender desperately trying to clear and saw the resulting ball somehow curl into the top left hand corner. At this point, Fritz Air knew this wasn’t their day.
The game finished at 10-2, a comfortable victory for City. Now the real challenge is to come.