||MAN OF THE MATCH
| Team In Attendance
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By some weird twist of fixtures, after going through 10 league games, this will only be our 1stgame against fellow non-title contenders Swat. With both teams having an indifferent season, this game is an opportunity to pull away from the other with just a handful of games remaining in the season.
The returning Azam captains the team, playing in central defence in front of the 24x retired Jason. Making things even more challenging for Azam, Boonk named himself as the other starting centreback, sending shudders down 15 AC spines. Backpain Dianto returned to his favoured rightback position while Alfie played at leftback. The dream centre-midfield duo of Chris and Desmond (in the absence of Boonk and Wilfred of course) was supported by Ryan on the right and Huiyang W on the left. Roy and Avan led the forward line.
The game kicked off in a fast and furious fashion, as AC looked to banish the nightmares of the last 2 games. The referee though, looked to be in an angry mood and seemed ready to bite someone. So it was fitting that the 1st piece of action was halted by AR(Angry Referee). Roy’s brilliantly timed run to latch onto Chris’ pass was deemed offside but the AC forward, believing his ‘blazing pace’ has left the entire opposition standing, went on to blast an unstoppable shot into the net.
AR wasn’t amused and gave Roy a yellow card, as well as a verbal warning the volume of an aircraft taking off.
Chris was next in the book when his tackle on the Swat winger was deemed too ‘Ang Moh’ by AR. He too was warned that all hell will break loose if he tackled anyone again. Hmmm…
Undeterred by the odd happenings, the AC machinery went on their attacking wave. The Swat defence were terrorized by the pace of the AC forwards and before they knew it, they were a goal behind.
Ryan’s pace took him away from his marker down the right. Spotting Avan’s run, Ryan curled an inch perfect ball to the nippy forward’s feet, who nonchalantly lifted the ball over the advancing keeper to put AC in front.
Swat almost hit back with the next attack when a long shot was pushed away from goal by the diving Jason, only to see another Swat striker sweep in the rebound. AC though were saved by AR’s offside call.
But AC could do nothing when a long Swat crossfield ball found their right winger, who volleyed the ball home, despite Jason’s valiant attempt at keeping it out.
From here on, it was all AC. Desmond and Roy, coupled with Huiyang and Ryan, were dazzling their opposite numbers with some fancy footwork and crisp passing. A good move gave Desmond some time on the ball at the edge of the box but instead of shooting, the Big-Headed One chose to feint before passing it to the better positioned Avan. The ball though, was somehow cleared by a covering defender.
Chris was a behemoth in midfield. Every long ball was knocked back into Swat territory and one such ball was quickly latched onto by the in-form Roy, who sped towards goal, rounded the lead-footed keeper to blast the ball into an empty net to give AC back the lead.
Before Swat had time to recover, AC added a 3rd. Roy’s movement upfront freed him from his 7 markers and he laid the ball squarely into the path of the sneaky Avan. The latter took the ball past the entire defence before smashing it home from the tightest of angles to increase the lead to 3-1.
In the meantime, the AC defence was taking a break at the nearby coffeeshop, having their lunch while waiting for their services to be requested.
The introduction of Daniel and Joshua did nothing to ease the pressure on Swat. Their energy levels and enthusiasm added to their opponents’ woes as AC continued to pummel the Swat goal.
As the half drew to a close, AC were awarded their 29thcorner kick. Up stepped Chris, who had no intention of getting left out of the scorers’ list. His swerving rightfooter curled wickedly in midair and floated in over the despairing dive of the Swat keeper and into the net to end the half 4-1 to AC.
The halftime talk centred around the quality of the coffee the defence was enjoying at the coffeeshop for much of the 1sthalf.
Things didn’t look any better for the embattled Swat at the restart, with the pacy Tim and the elusive Caleb added to the starting 11 for the 2nd half.
Things started a little tentatively for AC though as Swat tried to take the game to AC. A handful of long range attempts, as well as some brilliant goalkeeping by Jason kept the scoreline intact. One particular flying save by the AC veteran pushed a venomous attempt by the Swat striker, that seemed destined for goal, round the far post, much to the amazement of his watching fans back at the Seng Kang Old Folks Home.
But things went back to normal soon after, with the AC frontmen pinning Swat in their own half. In the midst of the AC onslaught, a counter attack won a freekick for Swat. The resulting freekick was well met in the AC box by a Swat striker’s head. Joshua, astounded by the leap, lifted his hands in appreciation of the wonderful piece of athletism, only for the ball to hit his arm. AR had no choice but to send the star-struck AC player off and award Swat a penalty kick.
The Swat penalty taker though, was perplexed. The entire goalmouth was more or less blocked by Jason’s massive frame and he had nowhere to aim at. In the end, he smashed his kick against the crossbar and Jason gleefully collected the rebounded ball.
There was more drama at the other end when Ryan outpaced the entire Swat defence (again??) and with only the keeper to beat, headed the ball over the advancing keeper. The Swat keeper, unaware he was no longer in the penalty box, instinctively raised an arm to stop the ball, only for AR to steam forward and give him his marching orders. The resulting freekick though failed to add to AC’s lead.
Desmond still had time to collect a Yellow Card from AR when his Big Head got in the way of a goal kick and AR booked him for obstructing the keeper’s view.
Roy and Avan had a few more pot shots at Swat’s goal before AR ended the game 4-1 in AC’s favour.
Although this was a good result for AC, the team must not rest on their laurels, especially with the return leg in a week’s time and Swat will be more than motivated to avenge this result. All in all, a good turnout on a day when many stars returned to the AC team just as other stars are on international duty.