Barracuda Finally Beaten
In what was always expected to be a tight, defensive contest, Dmitri Simon made all the difference as his 59th minute first-timer broke Division Three club Barracuda's seventeen match unbeaten run. They had seen off Tele Fone FC and L1verpool with their watertight defence in the previous rounds, tellingly having only conceded twice this season.
The fact that these two goals came recently gave Grilled encouragement, although with two of their three main forwards out, they were not the best placed to take advantage. Barracuda weren't renowned for their offensive instincts either, though, and odds were on this match going to the penalty shootout.
The hosts banked their attacking hopes on the Thai-Swiss strike pair of Sophon Srinumpha and Matthias Ballis, while the rest of their team did what they knew best - defend in depth. The home fans clearly didn't mind Barracuda's highly conservative style whenever they gained possession, as they moved the ball between defence and midfield rather unambitiously.Fabian Bona
found himself in an advanced position once, and supported ably by Jie Siong he was able to get a shot off at Barracuda's accomplished custodian Fan Ying. The ex-Singapore U20 player didn't break a sweat, though, and calmly caught hold of the ball.
A pattern of unconvincing Grilled attacks interspersed by bouts of pointless home possession emerged, with neither side looking likely to score. Grilled did have a brief burst of telepathic teamplay midway through the half that resulted in several half-chances, most notably a nominal one-on-one between Spirig and Fan Ying. Spirig was hesitant about shooting since quite a few Barracuda players had the goalmouth covered, and the experienced Fan proceeded to swipe the ball from his feet.
Grilled's orders during the break were probably to just take shots from ridiculous distances, judging from how their players stopped trying to make inroads into the opposition box. Sid was on hand to mop up after Fan Ying's punch from a decent Kek-Tjiang effort went to him, but his curling strike didn't bend enough at the end.
With van Liere quiet up front, Grilled needed magic from another source, and got it from Quah Han Kok
. The dynamic midfielder made the best of his posting on the right wing, and broke past Danish defender Jim Noer Mogensen in a contest of pure speed. Showing good footwork to keep the ball rolling on the sidelines, Quah then brought the ball to the edge of the penalty area before sending a low pass into the box.
There were not many legitimate targets, but Simon had the presence of mind to run towards it, and met it with a delightful flick in front of the near post. The ball sailed over a surprised Fan Ying, and nestled itself in the other corner to give Grilled the lead.
That was the first and only goal scored against Barracuda in their Cup campaign this season, and they appeared unsure of how to respond. Alert to the need for an equaliser, they could find no rhythm going forward however, and could have been punished further by Sid's oh-so-close free kick in the 69th minute.