Herron Leave It Late
Herron had Grilled dreaming of a point until the final ten minutes, before cruelly snatching it away with twin strikes from their forwards. Grilled were in truth not good value for a draw as they conceded the midfield battle to the home side without much of a fight, and it was only due to van Liere's incredible vision that they were abreast of Herron for so long.
Some onlookers suspected that Grilled were saving their strength for the more winnable fixtures to come, and they might have been right as the Birds didn't pretend to try and play football, instead passing to van Liere to dribble whenever possible, and hoofing it out of the pitch when not.
This tactic had its downsides other that the immediately obvious one of not being at all likely to score, which were Grilled's players' prospenity to get booked as they relegated themselves to chasing the game. Weng Seng-Huat
was the first to learn that as he was a bit too eager to prove himself in a rare S-League start, taking Chit-Fu with him into the sideboarding.
The second problem was that van Liere soon became an even greater target than he usually is, as the Herron players quickly discerned his role in Grilled's gameplan. The nimble Dutchman soon had to continually elude two or even more men just to get on the ball, and suffered a hard push by Eriksson that the referee somehow thought only warranted a talking-to.
Grilled's agony was compounded when van Liere was receiving treatment, as the linesman flagged for a penalty after a stray shot connected with Kek-Tjiang's arm in the penalty area, never mind that the midfielder had both arms crossed in front of his chest then. To their credit, the Herron players hadn't signalled for the foul, but Chen Haupai was willing enough to send the spot kick right into the bottom right corner.
It was Herron's turn to complain when the referee spared Sid the red card after the fullback recklessly rushed Abd Rauf Mohd Nadzir to contest a mishit cross that he had no real hope of winning. Abd Rauf, ever the professional, made protecting the ball his top priority even as he landed awkwardly on his shoulder, and had to be carted off leaving the young Zhou Tiankang to take over, while defender Pontus Molstål got the captain's armband.
That injury was about the only possible event that would allow Grilled back into the game, and Zhou found himself bombarded with rather disrespectful attempts from all distances right from the restart. Herron were not without ideas, and a graceful shot taken on the run by Chen Haupai was barely tipped around the post by Sulaiman.