Central Park can be proud of the way they ended the season, with a strong performance against Division 3 champions YDM United. Despite losing 2-1, the Sharks know that they were robbed of at least a deserved draw. The diminutive referee was once again the architect of this result, repeating his error 2 weeks ago by awarding a highly controversial penalty when he was positioned far away.
The absence of Mizan, Heng Li, Isaac and Jess meant that only 2 strikers were available for selection. Chris however, had previously shown his ability in goals and was placed on the team sheet as the goalkeeper. A rare tweak in the tactics meant a 4-5-1 formation, with Jason as the lone forward.
Moments from the kick-off, YDM almost went ahead. Anuar made an uncharacteristic error, when he tried to cut the burly YDM striker. Luckily the forward scuffed his eventual shot. This encouraged YDM to attack, but they found it hard to break through the 5-man midfield. The Sharks struggled to put together any meaningful attacks, with Jason largely isolated up front. The YDM central defender looked a little slow, and Harold duly took advantage. As he tussled for possession with the centre back, Jason latched onto the loose ball. But the defender’s pressure put him off, and his tame shot was gathered up by the keeper. Harold then had another go, beating his marker down the left and rifling in a cross. No one could get on the end of it though. YDM then went ahead due to some slack defending. Central Park seemed to switch off during a throw in, allowing the YDM playmaker time and space to cross into the box. A YDM striker found himself in acres of space, and slammed the ball into the bottom corner.
It was largely a midfield contest for the rest of the half, with the Sharks only chance coming from Jason’s wayward shot close to the break. The boys in yellow began the second half well, with Charlson playing on the right wing, and Yi Quan marking his return as left back. Jun Siong in particular looked solid throughout the game, and his runs down the right caused YDM problems.
One attack found Ryan in the box surrounded with opposing players. The midfielder was hacked down after dispatching a pass to Jason, whose shot was saved. But the referee didn’t bother reaching for his whistle, despite no advantage being gained. Harold was finding much space on his left flank, and did not hesitate to whip in cross after cross. The leveler then came for the Sharks when Jason spotted Charlson making a darting run into the box. His chip was nicely controlled by the midfielder, who slotted a left foot shot past the keeper for his third goal of the season.
Then came the moment of controversy; Yi Quan seemed to have timed his tackle to perfection, winning the ball just inside the box from the roving YDM winger. However, the referee seemed certain it was a penalty, and blew his whistle without hesitation. The Sharks protests were rebuked and even earned a booking for both Vince and Ryan. YDM duly converted the spot kick for the lead again. The league leaders were then pegged back for the rest of the game as Central Park surged forward in search of the equalizer. Jason fashioned a chance when he beat the YDM right back and crossed in for the waiting Ryan. The diminutive playmaker however couldn’t connect cleanly and the shot went wide. Harold too had a freekick saved, after Jason was felled right outside the area. The winger then stepped up to take a corner, which swung in dangerously. Although it beat the keeper, Jason failed to reach the ball in time with the goal gaping. In the closing moments, Harold once again supplied a perfect low cross, which just begged to be tapped in. Jason though, could not reach it as the game slipped away.
Central Park can hold their heads high in spite of the defeat, knowing that they deserved much more. This meant another season in division 3, where they have the opportunity to correct some errors of this season and renew their challenge for further glory.
The manager exclaimed after the game, 'We were robbed!! For the second consecutive week, we were hard done by. Nonetheless, the boys fought well despite playing in an unfamiliar formation. That's something we could be trying out more during the upcoming season.