Cup holders Borel sent tumbling by Eastern
EASTERN ended Ernest Borel's hopes of retaining the Viceroy Cup by beating them 2-1 in a semi-final tie which attracted a capacity crowd to Mongkok Stadium last night.
The Eastern goals were scored by the captains of both teams - the first one an own-goal from Borel skipper Tam Ah-fook in the 26th minute and the second a header from Eastern captain Lee Kin-wo, his fifth of the season, two minutes before the break to give his side a commanding lead.
Borel, with their grip on the trophy slipping away, pulled one back in second-half injury time through midfielder Ng Kam-hung but the final whistle blew almost immediately afterwards.
Eastern's victory booked them a place in the final of Hongkong football's most coveted trophy at Hongkong Stadium on Sunday, April 4, when they will play either South China or Instant-Dict. The other semi-final takes place at the Hongkong Stadium on Tuesday, two days after the completion of the Rugby Sevens.
Having already won the Camelpaint Challenge Shield this season, Eastern are now in sight of the third leg of a possible four-trophy grand slam. They have 34 points from 12 games and lead the First Division by seven points and last night's win extended their unbeaten run from the start of the season to 19 games, 18 of which have been won.
After the game, which was watched by a full house of 8,500 spectators who paid over $400,000 in gate receipts, Eastern boss Peter Leung said they hoped South China reached the final so they could beat their arch-rivals in a cup final for the second time this season.
Eastern had certainly done their homework last night, attacking Borel's left flank with Lee and right-back Lo Kai-wah.
And in the midfield battle, Borel's Tony Finnigan was hounded relentlessly by the tough-tackling Eastern defence and was not able to stamp his authority on the game. His midfield partner, Craig Foster, was given much more room and demonstrated his fine passing skills with both feet but most of his work was done in a position too deep to trouble the Eastern defence.
A frustrated Finnigan was booked as early as the 20th minute for a high tackle on Eastern sweeper Chiu Chun-ming and six minutes later Eastern were in front.
Paul Nixon, stretching the Borel defence this way and that, found room on the right to knock in a low cross and the ball flew off Tam and looped over his own goalkeeper, Chan Shu-ming, with Lee putting in a late challenge.
To complete a miserable night for the Borel skipper, he was substituted midway through the second half.
Finnigan and Foster combined well two minutes after their skipper's own goal, Finnigan picking out Foster on the right wing and then meeting his driven cross but seeing the ball flash just wide of Iain Hesford's right post.
Eastern finished off the match two minutes before half-time, Lee popping up at the far post unmarked to head in a chip from the right by full-back Lo.
Eastern's Tam Siu-wai and Lo both joined Finnigan in the referee's book for fouls on the Borel midfielder either side of half-time as the leaders gave no ground.
On the hour, Borel pulled off their centre forward, Peter Murray, and replaced him with Wu Yiu-kwok, a defensive midfielder who was given the job to man-mark Nixon when the damage had already been done. With Nixon rising to the cheers of the crowd, Wu wasgiven a tough time and was shown the yellow card for hauling down the Eastern forward after another teasing run.
With the match into injury time, Ng forced his way through the centre of the Eastern defence to scramble in his third goal of the Viceroy Cup campaign - but also his last.