Hong Guang Middle School v BSNJ Football Match
Their team is selected from some of the top young footballers in and around Nanjing. Eighteen months ago, BSN played them and were on the receiving end of a 7-3 demolition, which some might have suggested was actually flattering towards BSN. This game was going to be a real test of how much the Senior boys have progressed.
On a freezing, dark night under the glare of the floodlights the game got underway. BSN started nervously, our defence repelling wave after wave of attack, our goalkeeper, Alex making some inspirational saves to keep the game at 0-0. Ten minutes in, we hit Hong Guang on the counter attack, after a lovely bit of attacking link-up play from Danny and Dong Hyeok, Joschka bursts through on goal to have his powerful strike parried away by the Hong Guang goalkeeper. Only minutes later, Hong Guang's superior possession and control of the game shone through, as they finally broke the deadlock to go 1-0 up, and then shortly 2-0 up. At this point, BSN may have lost heart, as they were working incredibly hard but were up against classy opposition. However, the boys faith in their ability did not waiver, and just before half-time Alex hit a superb half-volley past the opposition goalkeeper into the far corner to cut Hong Guang's lead in two. The goal galvanised the boys as they went into the half-time break with the game still very much there for the taking at 2-1.
After a couple of half-time substitutions, BSN really dug deep and went for it. Within minutes of the restart they found themselves level at 2-2 courtesy of an emphatic strike 25-yard strike from Joschka. This boys were now on the ascendance, and clearly having taken inspiration from Mr Plummer's example of Leicester City's 'Never Say Die' team spirit, soon found themselves unlucky to have been denied a third goal, after a goal-mouth scramble in which Kirill appeared to have bundled the opposition and goalkeeper and ball over the goal-line, but without goal-line technology will forever remain one of Nanjing's great footballing mysteries. Did it cross the line for sure? We will never know.
The boys kept battling and by this point were in total control of the game, soon they found themselves 3-2 up, after Joschka again saw the opposition goalkeeper out of position and curled another 25-yard into the near-post with his right foot. Minutes later, BSN were in dreamland, Joshua bursting through on the right to smash home from a tight angle. 4-2 up, only minutes remaining, we just had to keep it tight to secure a memorable first win of the season. Mr Plummer, obviously having taken inspiration from his new hero, Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri, who is widely known as the 'Tinkerman' decided to do some tinkering himself, assuming that the game was almost won, adopting a more experimental approach to the game and changing tactics and positions. Hong Guang pulled one back, to make it 4-3, but Kirill immediately from the kick-off found himself in space on the edge of the area, and produced a spectacular chip over the Hong Guang goalkeeper to make it 5-3. Surely that was game over. It wasn't.
Hong Guang much to their credit, did not give up and kept plugging away. With less than two minutes remaining, they pulled another goal back. BSN were nervous and panicking by this point, and Hong Guang were pushing bodies forward as they desperately sought an equaliser. Moments later, they found themselves with the goal at their mercy and scored to bring themselves level, 5-5. Incredible. BSN looked despondent by this point, in shock. Immediately from kick-off they lost possession and Hong Guang raced through, squaring the ball across the face of the goal to their forward, who again with an open goal at his mercy, looked set to seal an astonishing comeback. However, he dragged the ball wide and BSN breathed a sigh of relief as the final whistle went. 5-5.
They may have been disappointed to concede two late goals to draw, but they were delighted to have scored five and come back in the way they did, showing such character. It was an excellent result, and the boys did themselves and the school proud. There were a lot of positives to be taken from the game, and there's a lot of things we will need to work on. The boys played with fire in their bellies, passion and raw determination and should be very proud and pleased to have secured a 5-5 draw against such quality opposition. We look forward to inviting Hong Guang to our new campus in the spring term.
Next week - Nanjing Foreign Language School (away).