Pool Drought Over
Promotees L1verpool earned a historic maiden S-league victory over the Birds after coming up with zilch in their first three ties in the top flight. Zou Yom-Keh, a youth product of Codingin Football Club, did the honours with two strikes coming in the seventh and eighteenth minute.
van Liere's absence was feared to be a bad omen for Grilled as his side had struggled without him to stretch defences, and so it turned out to be. The coach took the opportunity to introduce ex-Malaysian U-20 Subri bin Ku Zainol
in an attacking 3-4-3, half of a role reversal that saw the home side fan out with four at the back and five in midfield.
Despite appearances, L1verpool looked the far more comfortable team in the opening exchanges, as Grilled looked out of sorts cramped in the middle. A couple of passes were sprayed out to nobody on the right as they struggled to adapt to missing van Liere, and the home team grew in stature as they made full use of the width of the Anfield pitch.
Kong Mun Hee had an enjoyable time putting crosses into the middle for point man Zou, who somehow had the run of the penalty area despite being isolated up front. Sulaiman prevented Grilled from falling behind almost immediately as he beat out a first-time volley by the striker, but was caught in no man's land as Zou converted the next ball in at the near post.
Grilled's forwards were shut out of the game as L1verpool continued picking at Grilled's rearguard, which attempted to keep a high line to force play back. This ended in disaster as Talib's slowness in stepping up played Zou onside as as an arcing lob came through the middle, and Zou didn't look like being caught as he went the full distance and poked it left of Sulaiman for his second of the day.
The hosts would have one more near-miss by Cheong Wan Woon before Grilled's tactics began to work as planned, though by then they were two in the hole. Retiring inside their own half, Grilled headed off several prolonged offensives before a deep-lying Han Kok could seek out Spirig breaking down the left side with a glorious long pass. The sprint took a lot out of the Swiss midfielder, unfortunately, and his final touch was feeble to say the least.
L1verpool didn't make crafting such chances simple as they were no slouches in racing down the flanks themselves, and after the dangerous Kong threatened to get a shoulder in front of Talib as they ran for a through ball, the Pakistani defender cut his losses and took Kong down at the cost of a booking.
Grilled were allowed to get more into the game after the restart, but making headway proved to be difficult as Subri particularly found it hard to stamp his authority, and the forwards generally were hustled off the ball quickly. This was not to say that Grilled didn't get any shots off as Talib hit a couple of decent ones, but they were just too tame to trouble Lenny Offerman much.
Martinsson could have kept his personal scoring streak alive at least, with Paullin working hard to retrieve the ball and thump it to him while he stood unmarked just outside the penalty area. It looked to be a sure goal as Martinsson kept his eye on the unguarded far corner, but the right foot that had won so many matches failed him this time.