In what was expected to be a tight encounter against the 2016 Beijing Cup champions, Beijing Celtics showed their strength in depth with a convincing 3-1 victory against a well structured Forbidden City to get their league campaign off to a flier. A sultry September afternoon in side park set the scene for a much anticipated league opener between two potential league contenders for the 2016/2017 season.
As pale skin and Summer beer bellies began to perspire in the sweltering Beijing sun, the game started to open up after a very cagey opening 25 minutes.Despite the Celtics abundance of youth and pace on their side it was in fact a slow old man who provided the spark for his teammates. As experienced right back James Sweeney picked up the ball just inside the oppositions half there didn’t seem to be too much for City to be worried about. However the cheeky Londoner displayed his finesse by seductively floating the ball over the not so forbidden defense to perfectly connect with the run of pacy Cork man Simon Holland who showed his composure one on one with the keeper to roll the ball into the bottom left corner. The opening goal was welcomed with both joy and relief from the Celtic’s players and management.
In to the second half and the match remained quite tense with both sides still very much in the game. The Celtics were awarded a free kick in a dangerous central position high up the pitch at the sixty minute mark. With Mr. International Jeff Young already being relieved of set piece duties by the coaching staff (much to the delight of the fans.), Simon Holland stepped up to drill a low venomous strike in off the bottom right hand post giving the keeper no chance.
With legs tiring and City taking more risks going forward chances began to appear at both ends, with 20 minutes left to play the Celtic attack managed to beat the offside trap (for once) as man of the match Simon Holland slid a through ball into the path of strike partner Richie Lenehan who was able to get to the pass before the on rushing keeper and poke the ball neatly into the corner.
Arguably the goal of the match came in the last few minutes as the Forbidden City Midfielder rifled the ball from outside the box into the top right corner, however at that stage player manager Alan Kelly was already making the call to Paddy O’Sheas to get the two bottles of rum ready for his thirsty warriors.
A deserved 3 points for the Celtics who meticulously utilised the squad rotation system enabling them to maintain pressure throughout the ninety minutes. Debuts from Ben, Nathan, Darragh, Juan, Frankie, Fin and Anthony provides even more evidence that the Celtics will have to be taken seriously as title contenders this year. Although Forbidden city did not get the start they would have wanted they will be lusting for the next opportunity to show their critics exactly why they are cup champions.