Stroll In The Park
St Remy's Punishers Park has been a happy hunting ground for Grilled, as they trounced Woodlands Punishers FC 7-2 in their only other meeting there, while matches between the two at The Cooking Pot have been close affairs. A good run in mid-season with a memorable win over TheUnknowns and draws against raffles and FC GBR has been followed by three straight defeats, and Grilled tagged on a fourth with four successful strikes.
Woodlands have thrived on a defensive counter-attacking game, and set up an ultra-conservative five man defence against the Birds. It was not nearly enough to keep out Martinsson in the very first minute, as a push on Hjortlind won Grilled a free-kick. Sizing up the four-man wall, Martinsson thought he had spotted a gap but the Woodlands players stuck together to repel his stinging shot.
Woodlands grabbed the lead in the ninth minute to the delight of the home fans, as a mammoth clearance from defence was headed down past Tuan-Mu by Argentinean striker José Antonio Escudero. Bao-Tam rushed out too late, and Escudero had a large margin for error as he planted the ball into an empty net.
A three-man midfield could hardly be expected to hold the ball, and Liu Qing-Hong got booked trying to win it back off Au-Yong Siu-Yue
, making his return from injury. The free-kick was spread wide to Shen Kek-Tjiang
in an innocous position, but the midfield enforcer notched up only his fourth goal for Grilled with a laser-guided rocket of a shot.
Grilled made it two when Ola Martinsson
tried again from his next dead ball opportunity. This time, the wall was not properly formed and Martinsson kept the ball down, leaving untested goalkeeper Fan Sing-Ngee to gather the gall out of his net. Woodlands then rallied around their central defender and captain Anders Bengtsson, mobbing the Grilled players whenever they advanced and looking dangerous whenever they broke out. Chu Wei-Cheon, who gained fame with his free-kick goals this season, had the slightest of chances but did not get a shot off under pressure from Rottman.
Grilled held the bulk of possession in the second half as well as the first, and movements of over twenty passes were not uncommon if not especially incisive. Ma Dai-Lin
's skill on the touchlines again provided the spark to a rather dull offence, and he made former Serbian Under-20 international Jovan Vasilic look silly on occassion. A timely angled pass in the 64th minute bypassed Woodlands' packed defence, and Luis Alcántara
sneaked in to pump the ball in at Sing-Ngee's far post.
Five minutes later, Dai-Lin's trickery again caused chaos on the right, and the beneficiary this time was Martinsson who was lurking in the box. After that, Woodlands paid special attention to Grilled's evergreen winger, and mounted some good counterstrikes at Grilled which together were worth a goal. None came, much to the credit of Shen Kek-Tjiang
, who almost single-handedly controlled the midfield area by himself, even if he did get booked for a foul on Escudero late in the game.