The two big winners in the first round of S-League matches pitted counterattacking strategies against each other at United Warrior Team's Lest We Forget stadium, as the hosts returned Grilled's invitation to attack. Warriors' variation included three hardworking forwards who plyed the front lines industriously, and Grilled made no apologies about collapsing to a nine-man defence whenever trouble threatened after an early scare that saw Yi-Ping stretch Sulaiman.
For the second time in as many games, Sid gave Grilled the lead with a decisive early free-kick, with Afandi bin Zainal perhaps regretting his decision to plant only three men in front of him. That left Grilled's Polish sniper a lot of room to work with, and he duly cracked it into the yawning empty left half of the goal.
As the Warriors waited for Grilled to come at them, the Birds were not at all eager to go in search of a second, and a sort of phoney war developed as each side committed at most two or three men in their short-lived forays. In truth the onus was on the home team to attack anyway, and so the score stayed in favour of Grilled at half-time.
The Warriors' crowd favourite Firmin Ward eventually levelled things up in the 74th minute as he finally unlocked the tight Grilled defence with two flicks of his boot. Leaving two ex-internationals in Han and Talib behind him, the Belgian pulled wide away from the chasing Jie Siong and knocked a rising piledriver over Sulaiman.
This state of affairs did not last, and Grilled put themselves back in front after just two minutes. Rotteveel had not had a bite all day as Grilled's lone target man, but when Shiu-Loong mistimed a clearing header he was in through on goal as the Warriors' backline appealed for offside in vain. Rotteveel confidently took his shot on the half-volley and saw it fly into the bottom corner.
That quick reply was devastating in a game of few chances, and the Warriors had to take the game to Grilled again. An aggressive aerial challenge by tall Dutch midfielder Joey Habets saw him inadverently drive his knee into Sulaiman's ribcage as they leaped for a corner, a challenge that saw Habets carded and Sulaiman carried off unwillingly.
With Hang Bao-Tam
also out, Grilled's former coach Frank Öhmo
took up position between the sticks, while Luis Alcántara
had to come running for Paullin with the captain's armband after Sulaiman finally recognized that he wouldn't be able to get back on and reliquinshed it.
The hosts should have been expected to attack Öhmo with ferocity after the restart, but it was in fact Grilled who went on the rampage. Sid could even have extended Grilled's winning margin with a beautiful curler from a free-kick twenty-three metres out, but this time Afandi was expecting it and tipped it over in time.