Damp Singapore Stalemate
Rain together with the uninspiring defeats to Herron conspired to attract a worryingly low attendance of just over forty thousand to The Cooking Pot, and on hindsight the fans couldn't be blamed as Grilled served up another dull ninety minutes. It was not fully their fault, though, as Team Singapore set up a slow, tactical system that together with the wet pitch made the game go at a snail's pace.
Slick passing was never going to be on show on a day when the slickest thing around was always going to be the grass, and the experienced professionals quickly resorted to primitive hit-and-run whenever the ball was in danger of being closed down. Sight wasn't especially good either as the rain kept coming, but on this occasion it was to Grilled's benefit as Xiaolun misjudged a corner kick by Sid.
The howling winds might have helped with that, and in any case Simon quickly chested the ball towards the unguarded goal. Humourously, the ball came to a stop in a puddle just short of the line, and desperate lunging by a horde of players who realised that at the same time led to an ugly situation akin to a rugby scrum. Jie Siong's boot was first by a fraction, and Grilled were happy to take any goal they could get.
Xiaolun made up for that mistake with a reaction save off Sid, as the match predictably centered around dead balls. This particular effort, while not one of Sid's best, was nevertheless a very powerful strike straight through the defensive wall. Xiaolun had been moving away, but jerked himself back in the right direction in time to get a fist in the way.
All in all, it was a pretty miserable affair for both the fans and the players, who in all fairness were not aided at all in any attempts to play attractive soccer by the weather. There was plenty of raw grit and messy running on show, though, and Paullin nearly huffed and puffed himself to a second goal in the 50th minute, only to slip making his shot and send it generously high.
Han Kok's game built around speed naturally suffered, and he was a picture of distress valiantly trying to skip past opponents even as the ball stuck to the mud. It was touch-and-go soccer as no one could read the bounce of the ball, and Grilled were the victims ten minutes from the end when Sid guessed wrongly and saw the ball miraculously bounce clear over his head as it struck a hard patch.
Jani Tegelberg was facing the right direction, and he took the ball down the byline before sending it across goal for Vaios Rodostoglou to apply the finish. On hindsight, a draw was probably the right result, and Grilled should consider themselves fortunate that Sulaiman was there to deny Rodostoglou's wickedly spinning free-kick in the 88th minute.