CPFC’s slump carries on, as they bowed out of the EZ Cup quarter-finals to Goodanx Brigades from the lower divisions. A limp performance in front of goal meant the Sharks have become increasingly goal shy, only scoring 9 goals in 8 games this season.
Anuar started in goals as the search for a regular goalkeeper continued following the absence of Mizan and Aaron. Graeme once again was called on to play on the right side of defence, a position he is unfamiliar with, but continued to excel in. The Sharks began the game the brighter of the two sides, some assured passing found Harold marauding down the wings. The opponents’ 3-5-2 formation meant space on the flanks which Central Park took full advantage of. Harold whipped in crosses, but just couldn’t find a yellow jersey to convert as efforts by Heng Li, Isaac and Chris all went wide. The Goodanx goalkeeper in particular was having an excellent game, causing problems with his powerful kicking, and covering his defence by swiftly coming off his line to clear the danger. But most notable was his ball handling. He cut of Harold’s crosses, and acrobatically saved a goal-bound header from Chris. The Aussie forward’s strength in the air was a constant threat, providing accurate flick-ons for Heng Li and Isaac to chase. One glancing header found Li, putting the diminutive striker clean through on goal. The experienced forward however, didn’t opt for his trademark chip as the goalkeeper rushed out to cover the angle. Instead his tame shot was easily gathered by the steady custodian.
Chris had yet another chance when a deep Harold cross found him lurking on the edge of the area. With only the keeper to beat though, Chris’ attempted lob was also easily saved. Anuar himself had an admirable game despite showing signs of discomfort in the role. A powerful shot by the Goodanx forward was spilled, but the elder statesman redeemed himself by bravely throwing himself on the ball despite the incoming challenge. Then Central Park looked like they would go behind. Some slack play by Yi Quan allowed Goodanx to break down his flank. Under pressure, Charlson clipped his man in the box to concede a penalty. Anuar guessed the wrong way, but the Goodanx penalty taker smashed his shot into the bar, and the danger passed.
The second half continued where the first let off, with much cut and thrust between the two teams. Anuar really shone when he denied Goodanx several good chances to take the lead, tipping a header over the bar, and a shot round the post. The stand-in keeper however had a comedic moment when he parried a deep cross into the box, and was expected to make a catch but instead fell to his knees under no pressure at all. Thankfully Vince and co. were on hand to clear.
Central Park attacked in earnest, and Heng Li was denied another fantastic scoring chance in a one-on-one situation. But the Goodanx keeper was a wall in defence and saved acrobatically with his legs. The keeper eventually swapped roles to become a left winger, but that didn’t faze the Goodanx defence. Harold continued to whip in crosses to no avail. Then Chris had a go at crossing, and found Harold at the far post. His effort was also saved by the replacement goalkeeper. The Sharks finally found the back of the net when Jon burst into the box and fired a shot. This was parried by the keeper who saved the rebound off Isaac. However he couldn’t stop Harold as the winger tapped into an empty net. The lead didn’t last long though. Some slack defending allowed Goodanx too much space in midfield and they were able to pass into the area. The Goodanx forward took his chance for the equalizer.
Then came the moment of controversy. As Jason looked to clear the ball, he was barged into by an opponent causing his arm to touch the ball. The referee insisted it happened inside the area, immediately awarding a soft penalty. This time the Goodanx striker bulged the net with his coolly taken shot.
Despite their best efforts, the Sharks couldn’t find the back of the net and when the final whistle went they couldn’t help but feel they were robbed of a precious victory.
The bemused manager said after the game, 'This was a game that could turn around the season but yet again, we were wasteful in front of goals where we could have probably gone up by a couple at half-time.
He added, 'We didn't play badly but a run of 7 consecutive winless streak is a cause for concern. It's back to the league this weekend and I'll be looking for a major reshuffle to get the team back on track. The whip has to come at some point in time.