The #KleagueFM17 Challenges: Challenge Champs [Aug '16]
It’s halfway through the season and Steve Waddell’s E-Land have just dropped out of the play-off spots. The fans are starting to get a bit twitchy and unrest in the boardroom can’t be too far behind especially having opened up the war chest to allow a million pound transfer budget. 22 games remain for things to get the promotion bid back on the rails.
The next game is on my birthday so I really could do with a little present from Gyeongnam, a team that we have a fairly decent record against. Given our form, I’d have been happy to take a 90th minute penalty winner after a blatant dive from one of our players but it actually works out to be a good day in the end.
We take the lead early on from a goal that is deflected and awarded as an o.g. and then add a second after half-time with a similar goal; this time it's Matty Alves who gets the nod as goalscorer though. We’re looking pretty comfortable in this one and even an injury time strike from Yoo Byung-soo can’t take the shine off it. A good afternoon’s work for once.
My celebrations are cut short when I look at the fixture list for the next round. It seems that every time we could do with a decent result to put a run together we end up facing Daegu. This time is no different. Confidence drains out of me but I still put out a fairly attacking looking line-up and stick with diamond formation.
Sadly we are never at the races in this one. Paulo Sergio bags a couple of goals either side of the break and we are well off the pace. The best we can do is foul our opponents in a vain attempt to stop them coasting past us and eventually Lee Kyu-ro gets sent off for his troubles. Back to the drawing board.
Next up is Bucheon and the press are predicting an easy win for us. This encourages me to stick with the diamond formation even though it didn't help us much in the last game. Seung-woo comes back into the side as does Kim Tae-eun. Surely we can get some points from this one?
Sadly the best we can manage is a draw. And even that takes an absolute last gasp strike from Choi Oh-baek to steal a point. We’ve been poor yet again. The diamond formation is clearly not working so it’s back to a more familiar line-up for the next game I think. We need to rediscover our winning touch if we are to stay in touch with the leaders. The bottom of my ideas barrel has long since been scraped.
God knows where we go from here. We have an away trip to Daejeon next and then a run of four home games so now would be a good time to re-find our form. For this game I go back to the 4-5-1 and put out what I think is my strongest eleven. Since Choi Oh-baek scored in the last game I decide to give him a chance from the start. Seung-woo will drop the bench as does Matty Alves. Daejeon more or less match us with their formation so I tell the team to kick their lone striker and cross my fingers.
At half-time neither side has had a shot on target. In fact, there’s only been six shots in total and most of them have come from free-kicks. That’s probably a good thing for us though so I tell the team to give me more of the same in the second half.
After 65 minutes I decide to give Mateus Alves a go up front as Gil is being pretty ineffectual. It works! On 80 minutes Joo Min-kyu slips a ball through to Choi Oh-baek and he plays a lovely little reverse pass to Alves who smashes it home. 1-0! That’s enough for us and we shut up shop for the rest of the match. Daejeon haven’t even managed a shot on target in this one.
Now the problem is whether to stick with the same side for the next match. The team only have a few days to recover so a few changes might keep things fresh but I don’t want to upset the rhythm too much. Things looked fairly solid there at least. I’m going to be missing two players anyway as Jae-sung and Dong-jin are suspended. Again. Hopefully we can still overcome Goyang and put together back to back wins for the first time in ages.
This game is more or less a carbon copy of the last one. Matches like this would get football stopped but if it’s effective then it has to be done. Again at half-time the opposition have had no shots on target. We’ve managed a few but not much of note. I’m hoping for a repeat of the last match but this time the substitutions don’t work and the game ends 0-0. We’ve managed 180 minutes without allowing our opponents to test our keeper though. That’s promising at least.
After the match Kim Chang-wook comes to have a moan about his lack of first team football and I tell him that he’s right and I’ll look to sell him as soon as I can. He responds that he doesn’t want to leave the club. Bloody hell, Chang-wook, make your mind up.
The last game of the month is a home tie against Ansan. I think we will keep with more of the same for this one. A few games unbeaten would certainly help steady the ship a bit. Lee Kyu-ro will be suspended this time, it seems to be a pretty ongoing rotation now.
For long periods of this match it looks like luck has deserted us. We lose a goal and Ansan are dominating the play. I rejig things to try to get more in attack but nothing seems to come off. Ju Min-kyu is wasting a lot of corners and set-pieces and Kim Tae-eun is living up to the coaches billing of not being a right-back. Things seem to be ebbing away from us when Kim Eun-seon scythes down Ahn Seong-bin in the middle of the park and gets a straight red. That seems to give us a bit of a boost but a goal still seems like a pipedream. Until, that is, Seo Beo-min cuts a ball back from the right wing to the edge of the box and Joo Min-kyu slams home a volley in the 92nd minute. I go wild!
That’s enough to stave off the threat from below us in the table and consolidate our hold on a play-off spot but does nothing to get us any closer to Busan who are now ten points ahead of us at the top of the league.
We have four more games to finish off this round of fixtures and we really need to get some wins under our belt. Things are looking up in that Tarabai might be fit enough to start some training in September but who knows if he will recapture his form of earlier in the season. If not, it’s going to be a fairly long slow grind for the rest of the year it seems.