Ola Shares Lead
Grilled came within an inch of recording their first victory over Herron in five seasons, but had to settle for breaking a poor seven-game losing streak against the juggernauts of Singaporean football. Martinsson will be particular cause to be aggrieved as he saw his defence leak twice against fellow scorer supreme Shu Chit-Fu, but his brace at least sees him keep pace with Andreas Sunesson and Gordon Rosado at the head of the top scorers' listings.
Counterpunching appears to be all the rage against the Birds these days, but even mighty Herron going down this route baffled many fans in The Cooking Pot. The match programme put up a brave front that wasn't held by most Grilled supporters in the know, and the mood was sombre before kick-off as they appeared to contemplate Grilled's lousy record against the visitors.
There was a short silence as their fears were nearly borne out by Jähnisch's swivelling shot ricocheting off the crossbar in the sixth minute, only to be eased as Sulaiman got the better of Shu despite the latter using his undoubted experience to get to the rebound ahead of Bona.
Grilled gained confidence as they stroked the ball around, while Herron's players didn't seem happy after long spells of chasing the ball as a result of their strategy. Spirig energetically pushed the ball past Haupai and just ran in a move few would have dreamt might work, but Chen wasn't expecting that either and lost out. Free against Abd Rauf Mohd Nadzir, Spirig couldn't score against him as he did the last time the teams met here, as he pushed a weak grounder hopelessly wide this time.Hidde van Liere
lit up the stadium moments later as he reminded Grilled just what they had been missing, as he glided unopposed from right to left across three opponents before threatening the Herron goal with a winding effort. Even an ex-international couldn't have seen too many of those, and Abd Rauf must have been relieved when it skidded off the turf just a couple of metres from his far post.
There were audible sighs after that shining effort fizzled out, but they turned to yells of delight quickly enough as Ola Martinsson
lashed in his third goal in as many league matches. True, it was half a mistake by Abd Rauf as Martinsson's hasty kick warranted a routine save, but that mattered none to either the fans or the man himself.
Those who thought the 32 year-old Martinsson was over the hill could only choke down their words as the evergreen Swede hitman again put his younger Belgian strike partner in the shade with a second goal as the half came to a close. Simon provided the assist, but it is a fact that they don't tend to be remembered as the finishing touch itself.
No prizes for guessing whose name echoed about the stands as the teams entered the tunnel.
Herron weren't about to take it lying down, and some naive defending by Talib was pounced upon by Shu in the 55th minute. Talib's honeymoon at Grilled seemed to be ending as he committed himself far too early, and allowed a two-on-one down the right side that could only have one outcome. Ashton held all the aces against Sulaiman and could choose his moment to put it away classily.
van Liere was a constant menace down the right, and Grilled restored their lead in the 64th minute after he found himself in space deep down that flank. The Dutch winger sprayed an optimistic cross towards the six-yard box, and Simon found enough pace to get his head to it before Abd Rauf.
Martinsson almost sent The Cooking Pot into a frenzy as he looked destined for a hat-trick with perfect form and a sweet followthrough on his scorcher from just inside the penalty area. It would have been too, had anyone other than Abd Rauf been between the posts, as the Herron superstar flew out of nowhere to prod it to a corner.
Grilled were content to let the pace out of the match as Simon suffered an injury scare, perhaps reminded of how van Liere's absence cost them last weekend. Herron new boy and birthday boy Pian Hyoung-zoo warned that their challenge was not over yet, as he ran like the wind only to bend the ball the wrong way into the net poles.
Just when Grilled thought that they had done enough, longtime nemesis Shu Chit-Fu hit the Birds with a double whammy. First, he left both Bona and Talib standing with a flick of his heel for an audacious solo goal that must have been silently applauded by some Grilled fans, then tied the game with a rising shot that Sulaiman couldn't hold on to.
Grilled picked themselves up for one last rally, but could not breach the Herron backline in the time left to them.