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Match Report: Bucheon held by resilient Cheongju

Toothless Bucheon FC dominated possession and territory but struggled to break down a resolute Chungbuk Cheongju side who've simply forgotten how to lose.


Bucheon FC 1995 0-0 Chungbuk Cheongju FC


When the K League puts together a highlights reel of the season, this game is unlikely to feature in the final draft. That won't matter to Chungbuk Cheongju, who again underlined their contribution to professional football with a fully-deserved point against a playoff hopeful.

In their quest to earn a first-ever promotion to the top flight of Korean football, Bucheon FC might well look back on this as a major opportunity missed. They found form at the weekend, dispatching Ansan Greeners on the road but these are the games they ought to be winning. Promotion, automatic or via the playoffs, is still very much a realistic target.

However, they were probably fortunate to claim a point as Cheongju, who have now suffered just one defeat in eleven games, created the game's best chances. The league's joint newest team is beginning to put together a reputation as one of the toughest to break down. They arrived in 10th, eight points behind Bucheon, who occupied the final play-off spot. It was all to play for.

Tragedy struck the city of Cheongju over the weekend when an underpass flooded at short notice, claiming the lives of 14 people. As a mark of respect, the Cheongju players wore black armbands during the match.

With the ultra-competitive K League 2 rapidly turning into a minefield at the top, teams know they simply can't afford to drop points, especially at home. Incredibly, last weekend, the top three were all beaten, proving once again that the race for automatic promotion will likely go down to the final weeks of the season.

The visitors had the better start with the influential Jang Hyeonk-jin and captain Kim Myeong-sun bringing out good saves from Bucheon goalkeeper keeper Lee Beom-su. Peter Makrillos, back from a one-game suspension, started in midfield and was responsible for much of their early intent.

On the half-hour, Jang Hyuk-jin curled a beautiful shot away from the keeper's despairing dive inside the left-hand post but the goal was disallowed for a shirt pull. The Cheongju bench protested the decision on the sidelines but television replays showed the referee made the correct call.

Moments later, Brazilian striker Jorge Luiz thought he had given the visitors a deserved lead when his left-footed shot from close range squirmed under keeper Lee Beom-su, who did enough to gather the ball before it crossed the line. 

That was as close as either team came to breaking the deadlock in a tight first half.

Without exaggeration, almost nothing of consequence happened after the break. At one point, Bucheon had close to 80% possession but from all that, they only created a couple of half chances. Even a triple substitution on the hour failed to inject some much-needed urgency into their offensive play.

In the final minutes, a scuffle on the left touchline gave the crowd of almost 1,500 its first moment of excitement in the second half. The melee, like most of Bucheon's attacking play, just fizzled out quickly. The full-time whistle was met with a mixture of relief and disappointment for the home fans and players.

For Cheongju, they were fully entitled to lap up the support of their noisy support behind the South goals after a hard-fought point. This has been a season to remember, and it isn't over yet. Cheongju returns home when they host Seoul E-Land before traveling to Ansan and Chungnam Asan. Three winnable games which could, against all odds, see them propelled into the playoff picture.

Bucheon will look to get their promotion bid back on track when they visit Asan before Busan arrive to end July. Current league leaders Gyeongnam then come knocking in August but, by then, who knows who'll be top in this increasingly unpredictable league. 


FNR

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