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Recap: Suwon FC 2-2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors striker Lee Jong-ho suffers a shirt-tear after jostling with the Suwon FC defence.  (Photo Credit: MBC Sports 2)
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors striker Lee Jong-ho suffers a shirt-tear after jostling with the Suwon FC defence.
(Photo Credit: MBC Sports 2)
As the foot of the table met with the top, relegation battlers Suwon FC stunned onlookers as they held the champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to a hard fought draw. With the chance to have gone eight points clear of second place, currently unbeaten Jeonbuk will be cursing their luck as they clocked up their ninth draw of the season.

The Officials

Before you start hastily typing your tired puns in regards to referee decisions, brown envelopes and perhaps the lack of cash in yesterday's instalment, I can promise you I have heard every iteration of this joke these past few weeks. Some may even think the poor officiating on display throughout this game, and the number of fouls committed on Jeonbuk, may even be justifiable given their alleged misdemeanours. Let me reassure you, unsporting behaviour is not acceptable from any side, including Jeonbuk, at any point of the season.

While the punishment for crimes allegedly committed back in 2013 draws closer to its announcement and implementation however, perhaps those who subscribe to the cliche of "these things balancing out as the season progresses" may still find satisfaction in Jeonbuk's downfall yesterday evening. If so, then I do hope this game may have gone someway to balancing out that particular debt.

Suwon FC made consistent fouls throughout the game in the form of grappling and shirt tugging, only receiving punishment for the offence once despite their being multiple instances. While I admit it is hardly an unpunished, two-footed leg breaker, it is still a foul that falls under no subjective interpretation. If this foul occurs in the box it is a penalty. It really is that clear cut.

As mentioned, Jeonbuk received this compensation once for the whole 90 minutes, which led to the second goal. As Kim Shin-wook broke free from the defence with just the keeper to beat, Australian centre-back Adrian Leijer yanked on the strikers shirt, pulling him to the ground. There was no arguing it was a penalty, but denying a clear goalscoring opportunity as the last man should have also been grounds for a red card. Perhaps the linesmen felt that with Kim Shin-wook's strike rate, there was no chance of it being a clear goalscoring opportunity.

I do think I am fair in my assessments however, and have always admitted when Jeonbuk have had a more than favourable decision, and they have definitely had a few this season. As I said, I hope that the aforementioned cliche rings true and part of Jeonbuk's decision credit has been repaid after this game. When a player has half the shirt ripped from his back though, there is only one way it could have been caused.

Then again, perhaps it is just the quality of shirt provided by Hummel. After all, we have all seen, and subsequently tried to unsee, the Wookie's nipple this season (Warning: the below image is not safe for work!).

Kim Shin-wook "resorts to more brazen efforts to gain the referee's favour" against Gwangju - Caption Credit: Andy Clay.
(Photo Credit: MBC Sports 2)
Two Sides of The Wookie

For those who have read my previous articles, you may think I am not Kim Shin-wook's biggest fan, with my reasons ranging from his inability to convert, to the fact I resent him for making me look like an idiot in my season preview. However, you are mistaken. I do feel that he is unfortunately a square peg in a round hole, still trying to carry out a playing style the rest of the Jeonbuk players have moved away from, despite the managers attempts otherwise. I think he has still has a lot to offer the K-League, but you can only be promoted as far as your level of incompetence, and I am afraid that at Jeonbuk, he has reached it.

Then again, and brace yourselves for this, I was happy with his efforts last night.

Jeonbuk spent the first half piling pressure on Suwon FC after going a goal down early on. Despite this dominance, they were restricted to hopeful long range shots as they were unable to delicately pick open the crowded defence. When you cannot unpick a lock, you sometimes need to consider a battering ram, and that is what Kim Shin-wook provided last night.

It was evident within a minute of his half-time introduction, after replacing the ineffective Seo Sang-min. A cross was floated into the box, and Kim Shin-wook outjumped the towering Vladan to register his first shot of the game. It was off target as usual, but it was bothersome. While being bothersome should not be the sole excuse for Kim Shin-wook's disappointing form, someone was needed to win the ball in the box and he did that, ultimately earning the second penalty that would put Jeonbuk 2-1 ahead.

Kim Shin-wook though is struggling at Jeonbuk. A more in-form striker, afforded the same opportunities, could have returned to Jeonju with a hat-trick and an easy three points. You cannot become in-form by not playing games however and, while I still do not think his play merits his inclusion in a starting eleven, when used with an actual purpose like last night, he may eventually be able to pull himself out of this rut he currently finds himself in.

Lee Jong-ho Continues his Scoring Run

I have been heaping praise on this man for the last few previews now and he continues to prove me right to do so. Stepping up to fill the void left be an injured Lee Dong-gook, especially when there is the prospect of a more favoured Brazilian striker possibly incoming and you have not been scoring earlier this season, requires handling a lot of pressure. Lee Jong-ho last night scrapped for every ball, jostling for space with manhandling defenders, to at least create some decent opportunities in what was to be a frustrating first half. His efforts were eventually rewarded when he pounced on a spilled ball from the Suwon keeper to power home an equaliser from close range. It might not be on anyone's highlight reel come end of the season, but sometimes you just need someone to put it in the back of the net. Long may his new found form continue.

Defensive Lapses Still Blight Jeonbuk's Title Pursuit

Whilst bemoaning an unbeaten season with a six point gap at the top seems a bit churlish, it really should be so much more. Jeonbuk's defending continues to prevent them from wrapping up this season quickly as they earned their seventh score draw of the season once again from a winning position. That is fourteen points the club has dropped now, with the majority being due to mistakes from the players. With a potential points deduction hanging over them, and no real indication as of yet whether the implementation will be immediate or suspended until the start of next season, they should be doing everything within their power to extend the gap by as much as possible.

Suwon's first goal on the stroke of seven minutes found Lopes collecting the ball in central midfield, after a hospital pass from Kim Bo-kyung. The Brazilian was quickly closed down and dispossessed by three Suwon players, losing the ball with Kim Bo-kyung unable to make amends with a tackle. With the wing backs already pushing up into attack, four Suwon players bore down on the two central defenders. The ball was played out right into the space that had been vacated by Park Won-jae and then crossed in for defender Vladan to finish. With Suwon then playing a more defensive game from then on, Jeonbuk can partly blame their difficulties in breaking them down on that poor Kim Bo-kyung pass.

The equalising goal after Jeonbuk had turned the initial deficit around, was inflicted from a quick free kick from Suwon's Kim Han-won. In fairness, Kim had seen the keeper out of position arranging his wall and requested to take it instantly. Despite my claims for unfairness, this abides fully by the rules and the Jeonbuk keeper should have been aware that this advantage may have been taken. He was caught flat footed when the ball was sent in and, despite the ball being relatively slow and taking a bounce before reaching the goal line, was unable to scramble himself across to clear. With seven minutes of normal time left to play, Suwon FC proceeded to push back and defend a hard-fought point.

A Debut to Remember for Suwon FC's Keeper

I tend to mainly comment on the champions as I am the Jeonbuk contributor for this site. However, I do not want to give the impression Suwon's FC was completely unjust based on poor officiating. The mistakes that led to Jeonbuk conceding were of their own making and this game should have been comfortable for a team cruising in first.

In addition to these two things though, another major factor for Suwon's unlikely point was the starting debut afforded to the newly acquired keeper Lee Chang-keun. Throwing in a 22 year-old keeper who was playing for last year's relegated Busan I'Park, into his first game for the club against the reigning K-League champions looked a very questionable move at the outset. Lee rose to the challenge however and thwarted a number of decent Jeonbuk chances with some reactionary saves. He did look to tire somewhat near the end when he was found flapping at a cross, as well as spilling a ball into the path of Lee Jong-ho for Jeonbuk's equaliser (whether that could have been avoided though is debatable), but he seems a good acquisition for Suwon FC and could prove useful in their plight for K-League Classic survival.

Highlights from the game can be viewed onYouTube by clicking here.

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