'Keeper Cheng saves day for Rangers
Young goalkeeper Cheng Ka-leung was the hero in Rangers' 5-4 victory on penalties over Happy Valley in yesterday's Viceroy Cup first-round match at Mongkok Stadium.
Cheng, 20, made a series of good saves during the 120 minutes of play and in the penalty shootout which ended Happy Valley's quest for their second title of the season. Valley, who finished third in the Ericsson League, won the Senior Shield in December.
Rangers just escaped relegation by winning their final league match nine days ago.
Yesterday's match was 0-0 after extra time, when it went to penalties to decide Instant-Dict's opponents in Saturday's semi-final at the same venue.
Rangers' Dean Martin, Gerald Ambassa, Kevin Hunt and Leung Chi-wing made no mistake with their spot kicks, while Cheung Yiu-lun's shot hit the wood work.
For Happy Valley, Shaun Teale, Martin Kuhl, Paul Wood and Peter Guthrie scored, while John Moore's penalty was blocked by Cheng.
Rangers Nigerian striker Emmanuel Akile sent 'keeper Guthrie the wrong way in the sudden-death penalty. But Valley midfielder Lee Wai-man's shot struck the post, then bounced out after hitting the back of Cheng's head.
The delighted Cheng said he was lucky to save the last penalty and gave the credit to his teammates.
'I was really lucky that the last penalty was not deflected in and off my head,' said Cheng, a former Hong Kong Under-19 'keeper.
'I was very nervous during the penalty shootout . . . Happy Valley had many chances.
'I had a number of saves but it was my teammates who helped me a lot. If not for them, I would not have blocked so many. I am pretty confident that we can do well against Instant-Dict.
'We drew 0-0 with them in the league.' Valley were forced to change their lineup as right-winger Lo Kai-wah fell sick yesterday morning.
They still outplayed Rangers but could not convert any chances into goals - they either shot wide or their shots were blocked by Cheng.
Cheng did have one anxious moment in the 73rd minute when he failed to hold on to a weak shot by Valley midfielder Cheung Sai-ho but luckily it went between his legs and was blocked by his foot.
Valley team manager Leung Sui-wing criticised his players' attitude, saying, 'I was unhappy because many of the players, especially the Chinese, lacked determination to win the match.' Valley goalkeeper Guthrie had never lost a penalty shootout since he first came here eight years ago until yesterday.
'At the end of the day, we were the better team but winning games is about scoring goals,' said Guthrie.
'We had many chances but we gave them away and Cheng has really done a good job.'