When a team is without their top three scorers, the rest of the roster need to pick up the slack. Jeju United found themselves in this scenario Sunday night in Seogwipo against Incheon United, but were unable to get goals from anyone else besides their usual suspects.
This being United’s fifth game in 15 days, Park Kyung Hoon decided to start K League top scorer Pedro Junior on the bench, along with compatriot Maranhão, second in Jeju’s scoring charts. These absences, in addition to the loss of third leading scorer Seo Dong-Hyeon and defender Hong Jeong-ho to the South Korean national team, proved challenging for The Orange.
Action broke out strong from kick-off, with both teams trading scoring chances within the first five minutes. Kang Soo-Il and Lee Jin-Ho led Jeju’s attack with a number of quality attempts on goal, with Lee even attempting an audacious bicycle kick which flew just wide.
The game’s first tally did not come until the 40th minute, when Incheon’s goalkeeper Kwon Jung-Hyuk launched the ball downfield from near his own box. Traveling the full length of the field, it should have been bread and butter for Park Jun-Hyuk in United’s goal, but the ball deceptively bounced over his head into the net.
The 85-meter goal set a new K League record which had stood since 2005 when Do Hwa-sung scored from 65 meters for Busan I’Cons (now Busan IPark). Kwon’s first goal of his career gave Jeju an embarrassing hole to dig themselves out of.
In realization of Jeju’s urgent need for goal scoring, coach Park brought on Pedro Junior for the start of the second half, and Maranhão followed on 60 minutes. It proved to be the right move, as both men would later contribute to Jeju’s sagging offense.
▲ Choi clearly gets the ball in the controversial penalty decision as Maranhao goes to ground. Photo courtesy Jeju United
After breaking down into the left side of the penalty area, Maranhão was tackled by Incheon’s Choi Jong-Hwan on 65 minutes, and awarded a penalty kick. Replays showed Choi got the ball and the call was met with heavy objection from the visitors. Incheon'sAhn Jae-Joon and Lee Yun-Pyo were booked and coach Kim Bong-Gil was sent off for dissent.
When the smoke finally cleared, Pedro made no mistake burying the ball in the bottom left corner of Incheon’s net to knot the game at one apiece and chalk up his 14th of the season, top of K-League scoring.
▲ Pedro buries the spot kick. Photo courtesy Jeju United
Despite spirited action at both ends of the field, and eight minutes of added time, neither team was able to muster another goal, and the 7,514 fans in attendance had to settle for a 1-1 draw. The tie gave Jeju 28 points, and placed them seventh -- tied with Busan for the final playoff spot. United only has eight games remaining in the regular season to solidify a stronger position.
After the game United coach Park Kyung Hoon said, “Overall, it was not a good performance. After consecutive defeats our confidence has dropped. We must win our games at home, so it’s disappointing not to have done,” he said.
“Bringing on Pedro and Maranhao in the second half, we tried to play more aggressively. Pedro’s penalty gave us confidence, but it is disappointing we couldn’t add another,” said Park.
Jeju United’s next match is on the road, as they face Seoul FC at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 31. The last meeting between Seoul and Jeju ended in a 4-4 draw at the Seogwipo World Cup Stadium.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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