Even a pumped-up full house at The Cooking Pot couldn't aid Grilled to victory against Herron as the "twelfth man", as the current S-League champions sat back and broke the Birds on the counterattack.
Grilled entered this match confidently on the back of a four-match winning streak that saw them sitting pretty with thirteen out of a possible eighteen points, but Herron were still ahead on fifteen, with three Hattrick Masters games mixed in to boot. It began brightly with both sides brimming with confidence, but after a hectic first five minutes in which nothing came to fruition, the game began to slow somewhat.
Herron struck with impressive speed on the counterattack to take the lead, as Richard Ashton got a nice headstart over Lee Jie Siong
and had the time to measure his cross into the box in the 22nd minute. The pinpoint delivery made it just too easy for ex-national striker Shu Chit-Fu, who rose majestically above Bona to send a header crashing past Sulaiman.
Two could play at that game, figured the Grilled team, as they drew back in the same fashion. Some ten minutes later, Kek-Tjiang sent a visionary long pass out of defence to Han Kok, who still had Askenbrant to take care of; Spirig sprang forward, and faked a one-two to keep himself free for an additional second, then poked the ball just out of reach of Mohd Nadzir to even matters.
Herron nearly caught Grilled napping with yet another artillery shell fired from defence, but once bitten, twice shy - Fredgård abandoned the offside trap for just such an eventuality, and his farsightedness kept Yong-chul from converting another easy one, as he stuck out a leg in time to take the power out of his strike.
Chen Haupai then demonstrated the tremendous swerve that has led him to score well over a hundred goals as a defender, most of them from dead-ball situations. It looked like a reasonable compromise when Kek-Tjiang tagged Zandberg some thirty metres out to stop Herron's bout of possession, but even Sulaiman could not help but be a step slow to Haupai's perfect shot over the wall.
Grilled again needed to go on the offensive to get anything out of the match, and this proved dangerous with the vintage Yong-chul applying himself in midfield. With Kek-Tjiang shafted to central defence to support a 4-5-1 in the continued absence of Martinsson, there was just no one to counter Yong-chul's vast experience in the middle.
Han Kok was left chasing shadows when the 33 year-old made several sharp starts and stops in succession, proving that speed is not the be-all-and-end-all at the top flight. A few passes within the web of Grilled defenders later, and French fullback Barthélémy Boulant found himself free to place a ball at Sulaiman's far post.
The need for a goal was felt even more acutely by Grilled, who at least had the crowd behind them as they went in search of it. In desperation they reverted to a more familiar 3-5-2, with van Liere staying up with Simon, Kek-Tjiang moving back into defensive midfield, and Han Kok drifting out to be a winger.
The extra numbers up front told as Grilled produced some shots on target, and finally Sid pulled one back from open play as he touched in a spilled attempt from van Liere. That didn't count for much in the end as Askenbrant made it 2-4 three minutes later with a cutting move through the middle, and Herron were too good a side to let a two-goal advantage go to waste once more.