Substitute striker ensures holders retain trophy with only goal of a tight final Sun Hei took the first silverware of the 2004-05 Hong Kong season, defeating Happy Valley 1-0 through a late Chan Ho-man goal to win the Sunray Cave League Cup final at Hong Kong Stadium yesterday. With three minutes left to play the Hong Kong international striker settled a tight affair in favour of the holders, as Valley's appeals for offside were ignored and the 24-year-old substitute rounded keeper Fan Chun-yip to score the only goal and secure what Sun Hei coach Koo Luam Khen claimed was an upset victory for the reigning league champions. 'Everyone said Happy Valley would win. I just wanted to prove them wrong for the first time,' Koo said. 'It's always good, as the underdogs, to win the cup.' The endearingly cantankerous Malaysian is being divisively modest in his desire to foist pressure on his rivals. The encounter was more a choice between velvet glove and iron fist than it was David v Goliath, although even that exaggerates the differences between the two stalwarts of SAR football. 'I knew they were the better team,' conceded Sun Hei owner Raymond Chow Man-leung. 'They're more skilful and more experienced. We have teamwork and heart. We have to run hard and rely on our physical side. 'Happy Valley looked like a different team in the second half. Physically they didn't have the energy for the whole match. I don't know why. I was surprised.' In the first half Happy Valley had dominated, regardless of the knee injury suffered by Guy 'Jay Jay' Ambassa midway through the period, and exerted enough pressure to have won the game. Clodoaldo De Oliviera beat Sun Hei goalkeeper Domingos Chan to one through ball only to loop his shot narrowly wide of the open net in the 14th minute. Sun Hei were playing right into their opponents' hands by pushing their wide midfielders - Lee Kin-wo and Chu Siu-kei - too far forward, leaving acres of space for Valley's Brazilian triumvirate to thrive. Chu paid for it at half-time when he was replaced by Wong Chun-yue and Sun Hei tightened up the game accordingly. Even so, Valley created the clearest opening of the second stanza too; in the 65th minute Marcio Anacleto made space for himself then slid a perfect ball into the path of De Oliviera. The left midfielder, who has 12 goals this season, has been taking such chances with ridiculous ease. This time, however, his first touch was clumsy and the opportunity, and eventually the trophy, slipped away. 'Normally he takes them in his stride and buries them,' conceded Valley midfielder John Moore. 'It's a lovely surface to play on, but you do have to concentrate on your first touch. 'I still felt we were more composed than they were and we played very well in the first half. It was just that one millisecond that cost us. Our goalkeeper stopped in mid-track. That split second was the point of no return. He could have got that ball if he hadn't appealed for it, and if he had I think we would have been the stronger team in extra-time.' Sun Hei celebrated, and Domingos Chan exuberantly called that there were only three more trophies to go. But a Sun Hei sweep of the prizes seems unlikely even as they secured Cameroonian striker Roger Batoum, who Rangers had allowed to slip out of contract. Batoum doesn't seem to be the solution to the team's problem this season; that their strikers Cornelius Udebuluzor and Julius Akosah are too similar. More galling for both Raymond Chow and the Hong Kong Football Association should be the fact that as the champagne still fizzed from the bottle the meagre crowd of less than 2,500 had almost all left. Whatever marketing the FA had afforded themselves it clearly had little impact to a holidaying Hong Kong, while Sun Hei's victory was greeted with abject apathy. 'It's a shame ... Before I thought that if we were successful the fans would come,' said Chow. 'Now I find they won't.'