Chemistry Roll On
A loss to title favourites Chemistry wasn't totally unexpected, and the near-full house at The Cooking Pot was definitely welcome as the hosts benefited from the surge in interest in the visitors due to the Hattrick Masters, but Nikalsson's careless two-footed slide in on striker Subri bin Ku Zainol
was hard to swallow.
Remembering the fiasco before kickoff at Lest We Forget where van Liere had to be pulled from the starting eleven at kickoff, Luis Alcántara
took no chances and moved Han Kok wide right instead, allowing Kek-Tjiang his first S-League start of the season. Chemistry forfeited width too as they kept their intense 3-4-3 formation, and the match looked set to play out in a congested midfield area.
Turkish national forward Mohamed El Boubakri should have added to his tally of six goals this season as he weaved past Bona with a series of body fakes, but dragged his shot wide with Talib hustling him to the outside. Grilled's goal came against the run of play, though it was preceded by some clever square passes to lure the opposition defence out and allow Spirig the space to run into. Spirig snatched at his shot as the ball dropped rather quicker than he expected it to, but it was good enough to go past Brúnó Lantos at the near post.
The tide turned after that, and the 33 year-old Shen exhibited the box-to-box powers that defined him in his prime. Looking fresh after a succession of relatively unchallenging Cup runouts, Shen deployed his added mass to great effect as he shrugged off opponent players to blast a screamer just a bit high in the 34th minute. A little later on, he did much the same but hit the bar instead.
Chemistry were glad to hear the whistle go, and regrouped during the fifteen minute interval. They resumed their disciplined attacking game, and a searching cross from Qin Caen-Khim eluded several players in the six-yard box before homegrown Shahrulnizam Ladzim trapped and knocked it into the bottom corner in a single motion to equalise.
The visitors sensed a weakness in Jie Siong's defending, and sure enough Qin cut past his unschooled body-check in the 76th minute and got a free run down the goalline. There was a mad dash towards Grilled's penalty area, and Indian international midfielder Michael Bryant was first to the cutback and put it away through a mass of bodies.
That dampened the mood of Grilled's fans, but they were soon back on their feet. Chemistry continued their assaults instead of sitting back to collect the points, and this gave Grilled the chance to catch them out after Sulaiman saved a weak grounder. A quick long throw allowed Han Kok to make good ground on the right, and Bona was on hand to mop up after some hard running from defence.
Confident that they had earned a valuable draw, Grilled were mortified when a misunderstanding between Bona and Talib, made slightly more understandable by the fact that they still do not speak a common language, allowed Qin to cap off a wonderful day by flipping an optimistic short pass into the net. Pacy Croatian striker Martin eleznik then left Grilled with a remote change of tying it up again, when he flashed a solid free-kick just past Sulaiman's far post.
Grilled went for broke from the goal-kick and Subri charged the ball after it came off his shoulder, but was literally stopped in his tracks by an unforgiving lunge from Eric Niklasson. Although it was a loose ball, Niklasson got as much of Subri's foot as he did the ball, and it was clear that Subri was not playacting when he writhed on the grass. Simon replaced the Malaysian striker, but had next to no time to make an impact.