Grilled prevailed against Division Two challengers Apostate for the second time running in a qualification match, though the visitors reduced the deficit to three from five. Grilled were clearly the hungrier side on a blazing hot day, and never looked like losing in front of a full house at home.
Energetic twisting by Dani Spirig
in the final third forced a takedown by Ming-Yau as early as the second minute, and Grilled nearly capitalized on their inventive free-kick routine which saw Rotteveel pass the ball out side to Sid. Unencumbered by a defensive wall, the Polish rifleman struck true but just a bit too high, the ball attaining an uncommon elevation off the top of the bar.
34 year-old Shen Kek-Tjiang
shrugged off the transfer rumours hanging over him by handing Grilled what could possibly be a last parting gift. Proving that he still has the physique to barge through anything less than the stoutest of blocks, the defensive midfielder bumped past an astonished Arijs Praulin and proceeded to arc the ball over Viggiano to open the scoring.
Apostate were not especially eager to attack even as the pressure on them mounted, and Subri should really have at least worked the keeper when van Liere set him up for a shot from just twelve yards. What occured was instead hard to take in as the Malaysian ex-U-20 international appeared to get his feet tangled up in the approach, only managing to whack the ball over the opposite sidelines for a throw-in.
Subri put that embarrassing gaffe behind him with a well-taken headed goal in the 52nd minute, which more of less made the game out of reach for the challengers. Shen continued with the all-action play that was his trademark in his heyday, and one box-to-box run in particular should make some highlight reels even though Rotteveel missed the final cross by inches.
Sid reminded some why he is sometimes described as a free-kick taker first and a wingback second when he put in a regrettable tackle on Apostate's midfielder Li Ming-Yau. He was lucky to escape with a yellow card, though at least Le's replacement Abdul Talib bin Hamir was not the sort to rally a team by himself.
Rotteveel put Grilled's survival beyond doubt with a display of pure speed against an unwary Germain Postic, whose reading of the game failed him for once. Apostate's young winger Quan Hoi Chun showed fire in his belly when he ran after Han Kok for perceived timewasting, but snatching the ball out of the Grilled player's hands could only mean a yellow card.
There were several other noteworthy efforts from Paullin, Spirig and Subri which might have gone in on another day, but Viggiano was unwilling to see the gap in the scoreline widen any further, and pulled several great saves out of the bag.