On The Right Foot
Seytek's Last Call
Grilled defended their ladder position successfully against last season's league rivals Robbie Football Club, which made it four out of four for the Birds against RFC, but the game will likely be remembered more for being Seytek Djekshenkulov
's last in a green shirt. The former Kyrgyzstan U-20 midfielder plied a solid if not fantastic shift in the centre, as Grilled's forwards did what they will have to do to keep their team in the upcoming title fight - score again and again.
Robbie have divested themselves of Hod Dekel, Pero Emeršic and promising defensive midfielder Marko Ruhm since their relegation was confirmed, and while it brought them north of S$9 million and will save them some S$50000 weekly besides, it would be unrealistic to claim that their strength was not affected. Konstantin Trottmann, who beat Kryus the last time they met, did remain at the Blue Planetarium, as did his French counterpart Pierre Jolly, and both wingers started for them this day.
It would be Shiya Shaahee
who impressed the most, though, as the lively right winger gave Gianrico Persicchio fits down the right. None of the Robbie defenders knew quite what to do with the constantly-moving Shaahee, and he opened for Grilled after lu Zunwen
barged his way down the left side and placed the ball in.
The hosts were not deterred, and they won a corner from the restart through a deflected long shot. Chad Okeefe opted for a short corner, and Mario Visonà did all the hard work of bringing the stiff reverse pass under control, and sliding it through to Guillermo Puig, who conspired to hit the foot of the post. In a sight unlikely to be seen again soon, Qassem Madaini
chased the rebound down and brought it all the way upfield, even finishing the move personally after several good one-twos.
Having proven his bona-fides, and being knackered by the all-out sprint besides, Madaini was happy to stay back for the remainder of the match. It was left to Shaahee to advance the Grilled cause, and he broke through four minutes later to sweep in an inviting cross, than Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
eagerly powered into the roof of the net off his forehead.
The party would not be complete without newly-crowned Player of the Season Tian Yonghang
, who otherwise actually had a very low-key game. His usual slippery touches weren't coming off in the rain, but he retained enough magic in his boots to lob Ştefan Teodorof on the half-volley in the 29th minute.
There was no question that Grilled were home and dry, but given the way RFC were set up, the second half would see plenty more from the Birds. Robbie were perhaps fortunate that Grilled's forwards were not completely enjoying themselves on the increasingly boggy pitch, and they kept them at the door until Okeefe sent a questionable pass back towards his goalie. Sure enough, it hit a wet patch, which gave Mohd Safri the opening he needed to scoop it up and send it crashing into the bottom corner for 5-0.
The home side then had two of their best chances, the first coming when Okeefe went some way towards making amends with another of his exceptionally-accurate corner kicks. It was all the more impressive given how the wind was swirling, but Pierre Jolly somehow made the ball out in all the pouring rain, and flicked Robbie's consolation goal past Edmund Kryus
with class. Trainee Ong Jin Guang had a chance to follow that up with a quick second, but this time Kryus was prepared.
Chow Ying Lee
pulled himself partway out of his slump with a confidence-boosting finish in the 82nd minute, and Madaini nearly surprised himself again with a lob that came off the bar, but what the players really wanted was for Djekshenkulov to get himself a parting gift. It wasn't easy with their intentions so transparent, and Seytek would only have himself to blame after missing the target badly in the 86th minute.
Chad Okeefe tried to get another back for Robbie from a final counterattack, but he found it almost impossible to dribble through the last ten metres under these conditions, and was eventually blocked out by Ling Fuquan