From Bad Comes Good
The Birds progressed into the third round of the Singapore Cup with a bread-and-butter win over FC Newton, whose team of part-timers could at least take pride in scoring against an S-League club.
FC Newton had beaten Legendary InterMilan 3-1 in the last round to earn their passage, but lost their playmaker Mao Tae-Mo in the process. With few options left to them, and more importantly only nine players free for the match, the home side concentrated on keeping Grilled at bay.
Their indefatigable spirit held them in good stead up until one of their defenders left his foot in as Hjortlind tried to turn in the penalty area, and the Swede whacked the spot kick past Ming-Heng. That prompted FC Newton to come out swinging, only to be punished once more by Hjortlind, who volleyed with confidence from Yao Wai Meng
's deflected pass.
Grilled were not as fearsome as they could have been, no thanks to Ødegaard's floundering on the left flank, but a third was always coming, and arrived through the knee of Mohd Firdaus. Tong-lim's chested ball back to his goalie was too obvious, and the Grilled forward snuck past the defender to sneak it in.
Unfortunately for Firdaus, FC Newton forward Joe Chun-May had also seen the mistake, and overeagerly threw himself two-footed at the ball to prevent the goal. While Firdaus was a bit too quick, Chun-May did land his studs into his opposite number's stomach, which put Firdaus out of commission.
Chun-May was fortunate to get away with just a booking, but he must not have minded too much as he posted a wonderful inswinging corner kick, which the guilty Tong-lim attacked aggressively and sent careening into the Grilled net.
Hjortlind was carded too for an off-the-ball incident during the corner kick that saw him shove an opponent over outside the box, but as with Chun-May, the punishment simply foreboded better things. On the final touch before the whistle, Hjortlind took a first-time shot from a wayward square pass across the defence, and caught Ming-Heng napping for his hat-trick.
Grilled became complacent sitting on their large advantage, and sleepwalked through much of the second half; It was sheer luck that the hardworking FC Newton didn't reduce the deficit, as Zou An and Liang Chiang-Fong in particular came very close.
The courageous nine of Newton were soon spent, though, and the Birds unceremoniously ended their Cup adventure with businesslike late goals from Hjortlind and Swee Pheng.