With league-leading Taiwan Steel’s game against second-placed Taipower postponed due to their AFC Cup commitments, yesterday represented an opportunity for the chasing pack to impress, and make up some ground in the Taiwan Football Premier League.
LHNTUS 0-1 Flight Skywalkers
Lin Wei-Chieh’s dramatic 92nd-minute goal snatched a vital win to lift the Taipei side off the foot of the table on head-to-head results.
Both sides went into the match knowing that they were likely playing a key game in the battle to avoid the drop.
At the start of play, Skywalkers were rooted to the bottom of the table with a solitary point from their opening six games. Fortunately for Chang Wu-Yeh’s side, however, LHNTUS’ record was similarly unimpressive, with the hosts three points ahead of them in 7th place.
Perhaps unsurprisingly then, the game was played with a somewhat nervous energy as both sides squandered good chances.
For LHNTUS, Chiang Chun-Yao headed over when well-placed in the 11th minute. Skywalkers, meanwhile, came close to taking the lead midway through the half when the unmarked Hsu Fu-Sheng came within inches of connecting with Igor Santos’ cross.
In the second half, it appeared that LHNTUS would hold out for a point that would give them valuable breathing room as neither side looked able to break the deadlock. That all changed, though, thanks to Lin’s vital intervention one minute from time.
The 21-year-old winger, a former Taiwan U19 player, raced on to a long ball before coolly lobbing the ball over the onrushing Tsai Yu-Hsiang from the edge of the box to snatch the points and help his team leapfrog their hosts.
Hang Yuan 2-1 CPC FC
Three goals in the final ten minutes transformed what had been an understated mid-table affair into a nail-biting rollercoaster as Hang Yuan moved up to third courtesy two goals in the last ten minutes.
The hosts went into the game one point and one place ahead of their newly promoted opponents and the game itself reflected the parity between the two, as each side struggled to break the other down.
However, once the first goal came, the pace picked up for a frenetic climax.
First, Huang You-Wei broke the deadlock in the 80th minute when he nodded in from six yards after good work by former Haiti international Judelin Aveska to head the ball back across.
Then, Fang Li-Peng appeared to have sealed the result seven minutes later when he slotted the ball under Tsai Shuo-Che from close range.
Despite the double blow, there was still fight left in CPC and Cheng Chun-Hsien ensured Hang Yuan would have to endure a nervous finish when his bobbling shot from an acute angle beat Lai Po-Lun in the 90th minute.
With three minutes added on, there was still time for CPC to push for an unlikely equaliser. However, Hang Yuan – battle hardened after losing to a 93rd-minute goal against 10-man Tatung in their previous game – controlled the final minutes to see the game out without jeopardy.
Taichung Futuro 0-0 Tatung FC
Lee Pin-Hsien’s dramatic goal-line clearance helped a battling Tatung take a point against the Futuro side that beat them 7-2 in preseason.
The Tatung captain’s intervention was one of a number of last-ditch blocks made by Tatung’s defenders, while American goalkeeper Luke Deming impressed on his first start of the season.
Despite Futuro dominating possession, they consistently found themselves frustrated by a stubborn Tatung side that looked to defend deep and hit on the break.
However, former Tatung player Onur Doğan must have been sure he had finally broken Tatung’s resistance five minutes before half-time.
After being put through by Naoyuki Yamazaki’s clever through ball, Taiwan international Doğan lifted the ball over Deming. The 33-year-old, however, was able to get a crucial touch, which gave centre-back Lee just enough time to race back and acrobatically hook the ball away, with replays showing the ball was almost entirely over the line when he cleared.
This would prove to be as close as either side came to scoring, with Futuro having to settle for a point despite pinning Tatung in their own half for most of the second period.
The result meant Futuro dropped one place to fourth, while Tatung climbed one to fifth.
All images C: CTFA