2021-22 Sapling Cup (First Round) – HK U23 2:1 HKFC
HKU23 and HKFC clashed heads in Mongkok Stadium on late Sunday afternoon for an intriguing fixture in the 2021-22 HKFA Sapling Cup. HK U23 conceded the opening goal of the game but crawled back and secured a historical 2:1 victory over HKFC.
Both sides started the game somewhat slowly and did not produce any serious scoring chances in the opening twenty minutes.
On the 22nd minute, HK U23’s Sebastian Buddle had back-to-back chances to put his side in front, yet shots from the tenacious HK U23 attacker both hit HKFC players and stayed away from the net.
It was HKFC’s turn on the 25th minute. A HKFC free-kick was headed away by the HK U23 defense. Thomas Harrington unloaded a long drive from well over thirty yards but could not hit the target with his effort.
HKFC came close to taking the lead on the 30th minute. Robert Scott knocked a free-kick to the HK U23 goal-mouth and caused a minor melee. HKFC’s Thomas Harrington headed the ball towards goal but failed to generate enough power to trouble HK U23 goalkeeper Tse Ka-wing.
HK U23 had a golden chance to break the stalemate on the 34th minute. Li Hoi-hin’s running shot from the edge of the box was misjudged by HKFC goalkeeper Peter Smith. The ball eventually hit the goal post and came loose. Ma Man-ching went for the rebound but saw his quick shot stopped by Smith. Lai Pui-kei stepped up and let rip but blasted the ball over the crossbar.
HK U23 produced another scoring chance on the 43rd minute. Sebastian Buddle danced his way around several HKFC players before driving a low shot towards the net. Unfortunately for the HK U23 forward, his shot sailed just wide off the HKFC net.
HKFC went in front late in the first half through a corner-kick. Oliver Laxton’s in-swinging corner-kick was met by a dashing Thomas Harrington. The bruising HKFC defender leapt high, dished out an uncontested header and found the back of the net through the far post. HKFC was up by a goal late in the first half. The first half concluded with HKFC enjoying a 1:0 lead over HK U23.
HKFC had a decent chance to pull further away early in the second half. A HKFC free-kick was cleared away by the HK U23 defense. The ball fell in front of Leonardo Peres, who duly smashed the ball wide.
On the 59th minute, HK U23 went knocking on the HKFC door. Leo Chow decided to pull the trigger on a left-footer from outside the box. However, HKFC goalkeeper Peter Smith proved equal to the task and nicely smothered the ball.
Moments later, HK U23 manufactured another scoring chance. On the 61st minute, Li Hoi-hin spun-and-fired from well outside the box but could not trouble HKFC goalkeeper Peter Smith with his effort.
HK U23 kept pressing for the equalizer. On the 64th minute. Kwok Tsz-kaai’s shot from the left side of the penalty area sailed wide off the intended target.
It was still HK U23 on the 76th minute. HK U23’s Law Hiu-chung teed the ball up for Kwok Tsz-kaai on the right wing. The latter unloaded a ferocious drive but missed hitting the target once again.
On the other end, Matthew Hoare found himself on the receiving end of a teammate’s centering pass and fired away, only to see his shot easily picked up by goalkeeper Tse Ka-wing.
On the 88th minute, HK U23 went on and tied the game. A HK U23 corner-kick created havoc inside the HKFC box. Marco Cheung seized the opportunity and drilled the ball into the HKFC net. The game was now tied at 1:1.
Deep in stoppage time, a HKFC player committed a foul inside his own box. The referee duly pointed to the penalty-spot and awarded HK U23 a penalty-kick. Law Hiu-chung assumed the spot-kick duty and coolly fired the ball into the net. HK U23 was now leading 2:1.
Law Hiu-chung’s goal turned out to be the match winner, as HK U23 secured a historical 2:1 victory over HKFC.