Time: 3pm, May 27th, 2012
Venue: Bai Ling Bridge Riverside Park
By Michael Christie
Were the celebrations following Taipei City’s draw against Bulien premature? Had Taipei City clinched the title or was it going to be taken away at the last? Following Fritz’s victory over the Red Lions on Thursday evening, Taipei City needed a draw or win to win the BML title outright on points in the last round of the 2011-12 season, against Fritz. Determined not to have to rely on superior goal difference (and also, just in case Taipei City turned up with less than eight players, the rules stipulated that three points would be docked from City’s final points tally), some of the players went to extraordinary lengths, traveling from as far afield as Taichung, to play in this one. Sadly, for some of City’s finest this would be their final game in a City shirt (with the proviso that you are always welcome back any time).
The rain the previous evening had softened up the surface but luckily the ‘good’ pitch was available again. Most of the 2011-12 Taipei City players had said they would be available for this game, so Dan was faced with the right kind of managers’ problem – which eleven to start out of fourteen good players. However, at 3pm Taipei City had only ten men. Karim’s motorcycle had broken down so he had to get a taxi, while Dale could only make it for 3.30pm. So the starting team was Matt Wharton in goal, Spencer Pangborn, making a welcome return, at right back, Tom Clarke and Paul Brown (another City player making a come-back) at centre back, and Luis Mayorga at left back; in midfield, Alex Ramirez was in right midfield, Michael Christie and Karim Cham were in the middle, and Omar Malcolm was on the left; and up front were Neo King and Dan Calvert.
Watch the highlights here:
Possibly seeing that an 8-0 victory was beyond them, Fritz played at a pedestrian pace and allowed City to push up field and put them under pressure. The first City goal came courtesy of a fine move down the right. Alex released Neo down the right flank and his low cross was received by Dan, whose touch, turn and shot in the six yard box beat everybody. For the rest of the first half City put pressure on Fritz and while Fritz occasionally broke out they posed no threat to the City defence. Spencer, Tom, Paul and Luis were all in fine form. Unluckily, in the last ten minutes a Fritz breakaway move reached the penalty box and City conceded a penalty. The penalty was tucked away and so City and Fritz went in level at half-time.
By now, Dale Neal, Brian McGuinness, Ricardo Abrego and Brian Fitzpatrick had arrived and were itching to get on. At half-time Luis and Paul came off, Dale came in between the posts allowing Matt Wharton to move to left-back and Brian to go in central defence.
The second half began with City parrying some decent moves by Fritz and creating some chances of their own. With ten minutes gone, Christie made way for Fitzy, who took up the left midfield position. This meant Ramirez came into central midfield to partner Karim, while Malcolm moved to right midfield. The new midfield kept a tight formation and gained a stranglehold on the game which they never relinquished.
Now the goals came flying in fast. First, after some good work by Neo on the left, Karim belted a shot in off the underside of the bar. Next, Neo found enough space to shoot from outside the box, and the ball flew past the keeper’s outstretched fingers. Not to be outdone, Dan claimed the next two goals, both consummate finishes to win his hat-trick. While the goals were going in, Spencer came off, having played an excellent game. for Ricardo. And, last of all, Neo bagged another goal to make the final score 6-1. Was this flattering to City?
At 3-1 down and with twenty minutes to go, Fritz possibly lost a little heart. Nevertheless, City pushed up well and got the ball to Ramirez and Fitzpatrick on the flanks. Their service was good so City could actually have had more than six.
At the final whistle, City came away with four trophies. Two individual accolades went to Dan Calvert – best coach and golden boot – while defence legend Tom Clarke won the league MVP. And, of course, Taipei City lifted the BML trophy.
Taipei City FC 6 – 1 Fritz