Match Report 2-2 Tie vs. Taichung PE College
January 18, 2014
Tonight's epic match against PE College was memorable for a number of reasons, some good and some bad. There were certainly some big highs and lows.
As usual PE College showed up over an hour early with 24 players and were already running drills around cones by the time Compass players began to arrive. It was like watching a military boot camp in action. On top of this, the temperatures suddenly plummeted into the low teens, thanks to some arctic gales that began gusting across the city.
However, Compass also showed up with a very strong side--15 players ready to do battle--and came out very aggressively, setting the pace for the match and really keeping the initiative against a PE College side that seemed a bit intimidated and barely tested Gary in the net. There were at least a couple long stretches in the first 15 minutes when the ball stayed in our opponent's half. And then, just when we were starting to gain even more momentum, disaster struck. Moving forward, Ben was hit from behind by a PE College player in what looked like a cheap tackle that didn't go near the ball, and his leg went down at what looked like a very unnatural angle even from the sidelines. His screaming is one of the most chilling sounds I've heard in my days with Compass (although the farting sounds from that Scunners player last week are a close second place). On the sidelines, we all thought he broke his leg and promptly ran onto the pitch. Although it wasn't broken, it appears to have been a very bad sprain or twisted knee and Ben had to be carried off. Thankfully, Terry was around and provided extremely attentive advice and assistance, including bags of ice, towels and other equipment--for which I am extremely grateful.
Amazingly, the guilty PE College escaped without a booking, which left Compass dangerously riled up, but also more determined than ever to dominate the game. In the 18th minute, Laurent put an indirect kick onto Oto's head for a beautiful goal. In the meantime, Rob got himself a yellow card, followed by a red card for Artem. In the 41st minute, PE College equalized with a goal that was universally acknowledged by Compass (even Gary) as a real beauty and near unstoppable--a rocket of shot from outside that bent a bit and went into our left upper net.
At this critical point, it looked like things were starting to unravel for Compass. Eric the referee exercised his discretion (which Terry reminded me he has full authority to do in a non-league match) and allowed Compass 11 players in the second half, although Artem remained out. Nevertheless, PE College still looked a bit out of sorts, which certainly wasn't helped by their coach, screaming Taiwanese obscenities from the sidelines at them and lecturing--and then slapping--one of his players during halftime.
Compass soon got its mojo back and continued press hard in the second half and, once again, Gary had to make surprisingly few big saves to keep us going, although the ones he made were great. In the 77th minute, Arno took another Compass indirect from out on the left wing and placed it right onto the head of Oto, standing with his back to the net in the box. Oto's header to a big arcing loop and went in over the keeper. With the clock winding down, a glimpse of a possible win was in sight. However, agonizingly, PE College was able to lob another goal into our net about four minutes later. With the cramping setting with 2-3 of our players and, at the very end, virtually out of subs, we held on for a 2-2 draw.
Overall, it was really a magnificent game for Compass, which played brilliantly and fought PE College for everything. With Ben and Artem available the entire match, I can't help but wonder if we couldn't have gotten the needed extra goal or two. As it was, we had some other great near misses. It was also an appropriate way for Oto to say goodbye (for now) with two great goals.
We helped Ben get into his car after Monica drove out to ferry him home, and then headed down to La Bodega for Arnaud's birthday/Oto's farewell party. It was a great gathering of players, wives, girlfriends and other friends, made all the better after Arsenal beat Fulham 2-0 (sorry, Rob!). The highlight of the evening, though, was seeing Ben WALK (perhaps hobble a bit) through La Bodega's door and join us. We hope him a very speedy recovery from his injury which a number of us, including Yours Truly, can really empathize with.
I'm hoping to get one more match next Sunday against Chung Hsing U. before the Chinese New Year holiday and will keep you posted. Once again, a great, great job today, Compass men! Although we are currently less-than-fully-fit, we faced down and, for the most part, outplayed a team which practices two times a day and came out with two team's worth of players. Besides our skill, I think this can be contributed with the great heart and spirit you all played with.
Currently, we remain undefeated since the beginning of this season in mid-August, ,with 20 wins and 5 ties, of which 13 were complete shut-outs and 15 were clean sheets for Compass. We have scored a total 69 goals, compared with 12 goals against us. Not surprisingly, current top scorer is Oto with 23 goals, followed by Cesar with 12 and Ben with 11.
Take pride in such an achievement--you deserve it!