Bucheon 1995 v Paju Citizen, Saturday 31st March 2012, 5pm

The last time I’d been to Bucheon I’d taken a trail through some woods to reach the ground. This time though, I didn’t have time and so after getting off the subway at Sosa I just followed the road for twenty five minutes to Bucheon’s stadium at the Leports Complex. On my previous visit I’d arrived only to discover that the game had been switched to the opposition stadium but thankfully this time I could see the players walking out onto the pitch through a gap in the stand.

With the game about to start I followed some fans through the main entrance where I was politely turned away and re-directed further around the stadium to the ticket office. It came as a bit of a surprise as it’s not often that you have to pay at this level or indeed, the one above.

I found the ticket office and joined the queue for a five thousand won ticket. It wasn’t ‘Boro at Wembley’ length, but I did find the idea of printing tickets and then employing people to sell them and check them on entry a bit over the top for a division where the crowds average around two hundred. Wouldn’t just handing over a five thousand won note as you went in be a bit more efficient if you are going to bother charging an entry fee in the third tier?

At least you didn't have to camp out overnight.

I’d missed the first couple of minutes by the time I’d got inside the stadium. Bucheon were in red shirts with black shorts and Paju were in green tops with blue shorts. There were maybe five hundred people or so watching, including a dozen from Paju behind the goal. That’s a pretty healthy crowd for a Challengers League game, so perhaps it’s worth their while charging for admission after all.

The Paju fans seemed happy to catch up on their sleep.

Bucheon had more of the ball in the first half but neither side created much and when a half-chance did fall to someone a goal never really looked likely. It was goalless at half-time.

Paju on the attack in the first half.

The Bucheon fans were very impressive, singing throughout the match and they marked the start of the second half with a flare. Bucheon 1995 is a club that was founded by supporters of SK Bucheon after the K-League club was relocated to Jeju Island a few years ago as part of the effort to de-centralise clubs from the Seoul area. Whilst the new team play in the third division, they use the same stadium that SK Bucheon did and they wear the same colours.

The Bucheon fans show the Paju lot how it's done.

The game came to life ten minutes after the interval when the Paju goalie flattened a Bucheon striker on the edge of the box. It looked like it was going to end in tears from the moment he set off as he was never likely to get to the ball first. Even though the ref had little option but to send the keeper off, the lad was furious, throwing his gloves to the pitch in a fit of temper.

Bath time, sonny.

Once the keeper had left the pitch, we still had to wait a while for the re-start. First of all the Paju staff had to work out which of their twenty of so subs were actually goalies. Then they had to decide which of them would come on to replace the unlucky outfield player. Once the new keeper had been selected, we then had to watch him warm-up at the side of the pitch for five minutes whilst the rest of the players and the crowd gradually froze to death.

Eventually the new lad felt ready to come on. If I’d have been the ref, I’d have booked him for time-wasting as he made his entrance. His first touch saw him pole-axed as if he had been clattered with a length of 4″ by 2″. I did wonder at that point whether he just didn’t fancy it, despite his extensive warm up. His second touch was to pick the ball out of the net as Bucheon finally got the opening goal.

As most of the home players ran to their fans to celebrate, Paju had to be stopped by the ref from sneakily kicking-off against the couple of Bucheon players who were back in their own half.

The goal opened the game up a bit more and both sides had their chances. A few minutes from time a Paju free-kick from the edge of the box was curled just wide, whilst Bucheon could have sealed it at the end with a chip over the Paju keeper that landed just the wrong side of the post.

Almost an equaliser.

The single goal was enough to clinch victory for Bucheon and the win took them above Paju in the table and into second place.

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