Time: 3pm, May 20th, 2012
Venue: BaiLing Bridge Riverside Park
By Michael Christie
A single point would be enough to claim a third BML Championship, but against Bulien anything might happen and what a day for a football match! On a waterlogged pitch fit only for crabs, ducks and other wildlife, Taipei City took on an old bete noire in an ugly-tempered game. The weather, pitch and the football were all equally ugly. (The only thing uglier was the refereeing, but that was past ugly!) The first half was a drab affair of punts and high balls in the air. City had two goals disallowed. The first was probably an off-side, but the second, which came from a free-kick and got a headed deflection off a Bulien defender, and which was finished expertly by Luis Mayorga with a chest and volley, was probably not. Anyway, 0-0 at half-time was a fair assessment of the game.
Mamadi Colley came on for Matt Wharton at half-time. In the second half, with some new energy needed, Michael Christie, Luis Mayorga and Oscar Auguilera made way for Brian Fitzpatrick, Dan Calvert and Neo King. The rearranged team had new impetus but it was Bulien who got the benefit of the linesman’s doubt when their forward picked up on a high lob from deep over the City defence. It was very clearly off-side but City’s otherwise excellent defence made the mistake of not following him into the penalty area, where he took the ball down and knocked it past Dale. Is it true that a setback is needed to bring out one’s true character?
Watch Bulien’s goal here:
It was at 1-0 down that City finally showed their true mettle. The tackles were harder and the pressure was now on Bulien, who defended deep. City won corners and sent everybody up. What scrambles! It was from a corner that the ball came out to Tom Clarke about ten yards out. He hooked the ball into the six yard box where Calvert got a foot to it. Was this 1-1? No! The linesman’s flag was up and in spite of the arguments from City that Bulien had had two men on the post throughout the proceedings a goal it was not destined to be.
Have a look at the video evidence here and judge for yourself…
City showed real grit to pick themselves up and keep going for goal. The last twenty minutes were really replete with drama. Bulien nearly won a penalty when their winger was upended near the corner post. (The linesman needed to intercede for City on this one. The ref had already pointed to the spot.) And, Alex Ramirez again had an altercation with the tallest Bulien player. (And again Alex came away satisfied!) These were just a few of the many memorable incidents that City can look back on. At last, from a Weir throw in, the ball was knocked on by Calvert to the back post where Clarke managed to get a toe to it. 1-1! And this time it was (allowed to stand as) a goal! The final whistle blew not long after and every City player tramped off the field with a mixture of righteous indignation and vindication. City deserved a victory for their storming last twenty minutes but a draw was enough to secure the BML Championship.
Watch Tom’s late goal here: