Time: 1pm, November 27th, 2011
Venue: Bai Ling Bridge Riverside Park
By Michael Christie
On a smooth, dry Taiwanese riverside surface, two tough expat teams faced each other in the season opener.TaipeiCitywas the favorite to win, but Rogue had a new team and was looking for an upset. Wily manager Ross Conlon opted for a 4-4-1-1 formation to start. As usual, Dale was in goal. The back four, from right-back stretching to left-back, was Ricardo Abrego, Tom Clarke, Karim Cham and “Dapper” Daniel Wilkinson. The midfield, from right stretching to left, was Danny Weir, Brian McGuinness, Michael Christie and Ross Conlon. Alex Ramirez filled the hole behind beefy target-man Dan Calvert.
The opening ten minutes were critical for both teams.TaipeiCityhad more urgency and worked hard to close down space. Working hard helpedTaipeiCityplay at a tempo that was slightly too quick for Rogue.
As the game wore on, City managed to dominate possession. The City forwards and midfield put pressure on Rogue and forced Rogue on the back foot. However, though Rogue was organized in defense they never pushed up enough to make life uncomfortable for the City midfielders and defenders. City could always pass back safely to Ricardo, Tom, Karim or Dapper at the back.
The new-look Rogue was often clever in possession and threaded some nice passes together, but they were unable to sustain anything for very long. City always had a good outlet, especially on the flanks where Ross Conlon and Danny Weir made themselves available.
Rogue defended stoutly and withstood a lot of pressure but ultimately found the City forwards hard to manage. The breakthrough first goal came when Alex Ramirez found Danny Weir in the channel down the right flank. Weir crossed low for Calvert who beat the defender (ex-City stalwart Alex Daly) to the near post and hooked a fine half-volley with his right foot into the far corner. Later, Dan Calvert scored a less memorable but just as effective goal from sustained City pressure.
2-0 up at half-time, City had worked hard but could not claim to be brilliant. During the break, Stoyan Todorov came on for Abrego at right-back and Luis Mayorga came on for Dapper Dan Wilkinson. Ross Conlon dropped back to left-back, Brian McGuinness moved to left-midfield and Alex Ramirez came into central midfield. Luis Mayorga slotted into the “hole” behind Calvert, of course. After the break, the game picked up where it had left off with more City possession. After ten minutes, the spent Christie was replaced by Gustavo Maffio. Maffio came in at right-midfield and Brian McGuinness moved back into central midfield with Danny Weir, who was electric all day switching to the left flank to terrorise the Rogue right full back for a while.
A number of other City players had very strong games, including Karim Chan, Alex Ramirez and Brian McGuinness. Brian McGuinness deservedly got on the score-sheet with an opportunistic strike to make the score 3-0. He later made way for Matt Wharton, who gave a good cameo performance. Then, the last twenty minutes were all City. Having acquitted themselves well for over an hour, the Rogue players were exhausted by the end of the game and couldn’t raise themselves for a final push. City continued to probe for holes in the defense and found them. Dan Calvert completed his hat-trick with a well-taken first touch, turn and left-foot shot into the far corner after good build-up play and Alex Ramirez fittingly made it 5-0 with a fine shot finding the corner of the net from distance.
This was a good job on the day. For their part, Rogue are sure to improve. City will also naturally look to improve as the season progresses. City looks set for a good season so there is everything to play for.
TaipeiCity FC 5 – 0 Rogue FC