Stars Beaten Back
Grilled punished an All Stars Team finding its footing in the S-League, utilizing a heavy defensive line to absorb the former Cup winners' attacks and then hit back at their famously porous backline. It was a gamble given how the Stars attack could on their day rip just about any team to shreds, but it happened to work like a charm this time and resulted in a solid three-goal away win.
All Stars Team had been on something of a roll, whipping mist 6-2 and more incredibly, league leaders Chemistry 2-5 away, after only earning a paltry two points in the first half of the season. The upset against Chemistry was a good example of their weak defence being ignored when their attack was on song, and Austrian striker Halil Gutmann tried to repeat his feat of opening the scoring. Sulaiman's long arms caught the ball cleanly to prevent that from happening.
Still high after their recent large victories, All Stars Team were active on the attack. Grilled dealt with them with some difficulty, and did well in postponing the next shot at goal until the 14th minute. Top German midfielder Stephan Obarski, on a contract worth nearly S$300 000 a week, popped a cheeky early free-kick that left Sulaiman standing, only to see it drift inches wide of the upright.
Han Kok got his third caution of the season from the ensuing kick-off, as he elbowed Steenberger while going up for the ball. Grilled continued their cautious play to the displeasure of the home crowd, limiting their heroes to only one more opportunity of note in the first half, a half-chance that Ulrich Rudolf didn't hit cleanly. Serbian winger Boko Miljenovic was the second player to be booked, as he impatiently shoved Fredgård after the latter was slow to give up the ball for a contested throw-in.
Fullback Mathias Brot charged down the middle in an unexpected move after the restart, and his run was barely restrained by Bona, just enough for Sulaiman to be able to get across goal in time. Sulaiman's deceptively long throws paid dividends soon after, as a full-blooded offensive by the frustrated hosts was transformed into a one-on-one fast break with a swing of his arm.
van Liere took the ball confidently up against Steenberger, and Sid showed that he had talents other than his considerable dead ball skills by being fastest to support the Dutchman down the side. van Liere appeared to contemplate trying to take it all the way before spreading it to Sid, who kept a few vital steps ahead of the players chasing him down as he banged a first-time screamer into the All Stars Team net.
That deflated the hosts a little, and Grilled were able to hold slightly more possession in the following minutes. This imparted some rhythm into their play, and some nice passes distracted the home defence enough for Paullin to send a high ball over them to the waiting Bona, who met it with a thumping header that went in off the grass. Two-nil.
Lone striker Dimitri Simon
got his chance when faced with a panicky clearance in the six-yard box, but his instinctive diving header went straight to the goalie. ZhangCai Da-Hoon showed that he had some range of his own as he drop-kicked the ball accurately to the breaking Mathias Brot, and Brot nearly topped off his lung-bursting sprint with a goal. Unfortunately for him, his finishing lob had just a bit too much behind it.
Han Kok made it three with a sidefooted strike from an acute angle in the 83rd minute, and tempers began to flare. Steenberger went in hard on Fredgård on a corner, giving no quarter to a fellow central defender, leaving the Swede out cold for a moment. A yellow card was produced. Both Rudolf and Spirig came close to scoring inconsequential last-minute goals in end-to-end action, but the only concrete result was another caution, this time for Ángel Trejo remonstrating with the referee.