Manaf Comes Good
Bluedragon must have been anxious for a win to reverse their recently dismal fortunes, a close 3-2 loss to FC GBR and a 1-4 upset at the hands of Woodlands Punishers, but it was not to be against a hungry Grilled side with Tellskär maintaining his excellent form and Blissenbach given a chance on the left wing.
Bluedragon were put down 3-0 when they visited Grilled through goals from Hjortlind and Kearney, and once again it was Hjortlind who proved to be a thorn in their side, as he overcame Belgian defender Harmen Geurden to open up space for a good shot past young English goalie Jamie Jeremy.
Frangky Manaf, Indonesian supremo, discarded his jinx against the Birds when he pulled free of Lan Tuan-Mu
to reach a long ball by fellow forward Edu Irvan. Veteran Frank Öhmo
, still standing in for first-choice goalie Bao-Tam, flapped at the ball but could not get his fingers to it as it went in for 1-1 in the 25th minute. Manaf, who had collected a yellow card and two red ones in his past two encounters with Grilled, put all that behind him as he terrorised the three-man Grilled defence in stretched, nearly snatching the lead on two occassions as Grilled felt happy to be level at the break.
The next two goals owed a lot to versatile Belgian fullback Johan Dewilde
, as he juggled an unfamiliar right-back spot and had to handle the disappointment of having to yield the set pieces to Hjortlind. He showed that he did not require the ball to be stopped to score as he stroked the ball sweetly from the right side of the penalty area to put Grilled ahead.
That hardly allowed Grilled to relax, as the immensely experienced Swedish attacking midfielder Henrik Sörensson, who has seen twelve other clubs in a long career, had Shen Kek-Tjiang
gasping at times despite the sixteen years between them. Magnus Rolandsson did not have a particularly good day though, and an average age of 32 in midfield eventually took its toll as the fresher legs of Noor Yadah and Tellskär drove into Bluedragon's half repeatedly.
The pressure paid off in the 78th minute as Hjortlind struck a corner which Dewilde flicked onto the post. Leftback Nui Pakpao
was in position to chest it home to widen Grilled's lead. Hjortlind nearly made a second in the same minute as he took a free-kick which Kearney banged into goal, but the linesman flagged Kearney offside for making his move too soon. The American striker was not to be left empty-handed as he found the net again off a Kek-Tjiang through ball, and this time the referee acceeded.
Hjortlind should have made it a brace against Bluedragon again when he had perhaps the clearest chance of the match with five minutes to go. With only Jeremy to beat, he underhit his lop and the goalkeeper got back in time to push it over the bar.