Patience and Equanimity
Singapore Football Club welcomed in the New Year by hosting Hotspurs at GEMS Academy, for their first COSMO League game of 2020.
Coming into the match Hotspurs were rightly buoyed by their strong showing against defending champions, TGA Rangers, the weekend before.
Kicking off at 5 pm, under overcast skies, SFC was met with the now-familiar sight of two banks of four from their visitors. As a result, the first half was played out, with SFC enjoying the lion’s share of possession in their opponent's half.
Upfront Mike Hemmingway worked hard, whilst ably supported by DJ Dashnyam and Ross Plain. Collins Mbeutcha meanwhile swept everything up, in front of the back four, with his reassuring gallic nonchalance. The only change in midfield occurring when Swiss dynamo, Tim Walter, came off injured and was replaced by fellow francophone, Anthony Garreau.
As the game wore on the visiting keeper was eventually called upon to make a handful of strong saves. Overall, however, a battling Hotspurs defence had done enough to nullify SFC’s initial cutting edge.
With the referee blowing his whistle, for half time, Hotspurs went in the happier of the two teams. The scoreline still reading 0-0.
The second half began in much the same way as the first, with more defensive hard work from Hotspurs, who were now growing in stature as the game wore on.
Finally, after an hour of play, the decision was made to ring the changes. The indefatigable Andrew Hutcheon was sent on, accompanied by the dual teenage talents of Gabe Myong and Nico Anstee to add some further vim to proceedings.
The changes were quickly felt.
As the boys in blue started to tire, “Seoul Sensation” Myong started to find space, whilst “Stepover King” Anstee, on the other flank started to ask questions too. DJ Dashnyam, who had flourished against the same opponents at Dempsey, had a rasping shot well saved by the Hotspurs keeper. Seconds later, Myong also went close. This time glancing a free header just wide at the back post. SFC patience was being rewarded and the pressure was now building.
Finally, when the first goal did arrive, it came in curious circumstances. Ross Plain, found the ball fall at his feet just inside the box, after a weak clearance. Having steadied himself to find space the “Somerset Speedster” uncharacteristically miscued his shot. The change of speed in the ball, however, meant that the goalkeeper was now wrong-footed, and could only scramble helplessly as the ball bounced in off the post to make it 1-0 to SFC.
Having done the hard work for much of the match, the Hotspurs’ defence was clearly crestfallen.
Not to be outdone the irrepressible Hutcheon then decided to get in on the action, a few minutes later. This time the goal was a textbook finish by SFC's Number 9. The ball was neatly played into his feet, by Ross Plain, before the Scotsman calmly placed the ball past the keeper with a crisp shot from just inside the box. The second goal effectively killing off the game.
The final ten minutes played out with SFC looking to extend their lead further.
Final score: SFC 2 Hotspurs 0
Man of the Match: Ross Plain