Story by Ryan Lim/Red Sports. Photos by Chua Kai Yun/Red Sports.

ACJC players celebrate as Ayyadarshan's (#14) goal secures their comeback lead. (Photo © Chua Kai Yun/Red Sports)

ACJC players celebrate after Ayyadarshan’s (#14) goal secures their comeback lead. (Photo 1 © Chua Kai Yun/Red Sports)

Nanyang Junior College, Friday, April 22, 2016 — Anglo-Chinese Junior College (ACJC) secured a 3-1 comeback win against Raffles Institution (RI) to qualify for the semi-finals of the National A Division Football Championship.

This was ACJC’s seventh straight win and they remain undefeated. ACJC have also qualified for the semi-finals with one game to spare in Round 2.

This result represents a slight setback for RI after their recent run of form. RI’s last two matches saw them thrash Yishun Junior College 8-0, and also defeat last year’s finalists, Nanyang Junior College. However, despite the loss, their qualification hopes still remain intact as they stand second in the table.

The match was delayed for 40 minutes due to lightning risk. The game got on the way in less than favourable conditions, with a damp field made it difficult for the players to control the ball.

ACJC got into their usual swift passing game immediately, while RI looked to defend in numbers and pounce on the counter attack.

RI launched their first counter attack with Jonathan Chua (RI #9) speeding down the right flank. ACJC keeper Ethan Koh (ACJC #1) rushed out to clear the ball but hesitated midway. Jonathan spotted the keeper off his line and tried a long range lob that curled wide.

RI opened the scoring after a weak shot slipped through Ethan Koh’s (ACJC #1) hands. Jonathan Chua (RI #9) capitalised on the mistake and side-footed the ball into an unguarded goal.

Kang Seong Soo (ACJC #7) then chased down a through ball, heading it over the keeper and into the goal. However, it was ruled offside by the linesman much to the frustration of the ACJC striker.

Not long after, Ayyadarshan (ACJC #14) outmuscled the RI defenders outside their penalty area, toe-poking an effort that went straight towards the keeper.

ACJC continued to dominate possession, as RI defended deep in their half.

Oon Jinkuan (ACJC #11) smashed a dipping shot from outside the penalty box to finally equalize. The long range strike caught the backtracking RI goalkeeper by surprise and deflected off the crossbar and into goal.

Edward Quah (#13) received a yellow card after a mistimed tackle on an ACJC player.

ACJC goalkeeper Ethan Koh (ACJC #1) redeemed himself with two fine clearances, charging out of his penalty box to intercept through passes.

There was a clear contrast in playing styles. RI crowded their defence and looked to play with one target man up top while the ACJC forward line had greater width, employing a trio of players in a more offensive setup.

Late in the first half, ACJC won a corner kick. Ayyadarshan (ACJC #14) rose above everyone else to head home ACJC’s second goal.

The teams went into the half-time break with ACJC 2-1 up.

ACJC began the second half with a strong penalty claim. Ayyadarshan (ACJC #14) tumbled to the ground after clashing with goalkeeper Zachary Wan (RI #1). However, it was dismissed by the referee.

The second half saw a different RI team. Having to chase the game, RI played with a thinner defence and a more substantial midfield. This worked to ACJC’s favour as their pace on the wings could now stretch the RI backline. And with the comfort of a one-goal lead, ACJC could afford to play with more patience and calm.

Devon Gammon (ACJC #8) contributed to the attack with a side-footed strike from less than five metres out that was well saved by RI goalkeeper Zachary Wan (RI #1).

Defensive midfielder Davidson (RI #12) started several attacks by using his strong build to shield the ball when driving up the field, playing a big part in RI’s comeback efforts.

ACJC delivered an excellent one-touch play that ended with a cross to Tan Kayshin (ACJC #10). The eventual header was palmed away by the keeper.

The game slowed as fatigue came on. With little over 15 minutes of the game left, the RI coach rallied the RI supporters, boosting the morale of the RI team. The ACJC fans responded with cheers of their own as the game burst into life.

As the game neared its end, Jonathan Chua (RI #9) made a sharp turn into the penalty box, and seemed to be tripped by an ACJC defender. The referee blew the whistle for a penalty kick. However, in a display of sportsmanship, Jonathan refuses the penalty, telling the referee that there was no contact. After consulting the linesman, the referee awarded a goal kick to ACJC instead.

Minutes later, Eldon Foo (ACJC #20) delivered the finishing blow with a swerving free kick that found its way into the top right corner of the goal. The game ended 3-1 with ACJC securing all three points.

ACJC captain Tan Kayshin (ACJC #10) commented after the match, “It was a very tight game, Raffles put up a very good fight. They scored the first goal and we had it all to do. We will go again against Nanyang. Results come second, we want to enjoy the game and take it as it is.”

When quizzed on the penalty kick incident at the end of the game, he added “Fair play to them, really.”

On his penalty refusal, Jonathan Chua (RI #9) commented, “It was clear that there was no touch. I just lost balance because he slid in and I was a bit put off. So it was an easy decision for me. I think we have been very blessed in the past round, there was probably some divine intervention which led us to scoring eight goals (in the final group game). So, I feel that it’s the least that I can do, to show my integrity. Whatever happens next Tuesday, we will leave it to God.”

ACJC take on Nanyang Junior College next while RI’s qualification hopes will hinge on their final Round 2 game against Temasek Junior College.

Score by Half
1st Half: 1-2
2nd Half: 0-1
Full-time: 1-3

Oon Jinkuan (ACJC #11) – 1 goal
Ayyadarshan (ACJC #14) – 1 goal
Eldon Foo (ACJC #20) – 1 goal

Jonathan Chua En Zhe (RI #9) – 1 goal

RI Roster
Zachary Wan Ming Lin (#1), Christoph Chong Sheng (#2), Joel Lim Jie En (#3), Jareth Ng Jun Jie (#4), Le Hoang Hiep (#5), Cheng Wah Hay, Wilfred (#6), Ian Petrus Tan (#7), Tan Teck Ann (#8), Jonathan Chua En Zhe (#9), Alan Koh Zheng Yong (#10), Lim Jun Wen (#11), Davidson (#12), Quah Yu Xuan Edward (#13), Ashwin Unnithan (#14), Chan Mun Fai (#15), Sim Ruibin (#16), Foo Jun Kit (#17), Toh Yu Ze (#18), Tan Yu Heng Julian (#19), Chen Wei Rong Ryan (#20)

ACJC Roster
Ethan Koh (#1), Suhas Ramanan (#2), Joel Tan (#4), Justinian Macpherson (#6), Kang Seong Soo (#7), Devon Gammon (#8), Leow Chun Kiat (#9), Tan Kayshin (#10), Oon Jinkuan (#11), Tan Xinwei (#12), Yao Zhikai (#13), Ayyadarshan (#14), Ryan Chew (#15), Jonathan Chia (#16), Chia Chong Jin (#18), Loy Huijing (#19), Eldon Foo (#20), Mark Lam (#21), Loo Wee Sing (#23), Jonathan Long (#24)

National A Division Football Championship – fixtures and results

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