Seven-Nil, Hobson Four, Ninety Sunk
A few thousand travelling Grilled fans witnessed a dream start to the season that nearly never was. The game Was close to being called off due to the torrential downpour plaguing the country, and only a momentary reprive allowed Winners' pitch to be soccer-fit. The rain countinued soon after the kick off, and the first half-hour was a sorry story of mud and slips as all the players spent more effort fighting the appalling conditions than each other. Soon, it became rather difficult to tell friend and foe apart through the curtain of rain as the players were splattered a uniform brown.
Some more robust individuals did thrive in adversity, among them Tim Hobson
who relished the frequent ball challenges, which he often won. He proved a little too enthusiastic for the referee, and soon received a booking for tearing Winners' Siu-yin's jersey half off. It was his doggedness which led to Grilled's opening goal, as he controlled a through ball nicely despite the water and the presence of Hsien-Feng before making himself just enough space to blast a shot in past bin Md Mustaffa.
Winners was shaken by that goal, and straight after the restart lost the ball tamely to Chiew-Yen's tackle. Central defender Lan Tuan-Mu
, running into space at the front, took Chiew-Yen's punt upfield and muscled past the hesitating Hsien-Feng and Gun-Ho to score. Tuan-Mu returned the favour soon after, feeding Chiew-Yen with a cross which the nippy striker made no mistake with, hitting it first time. By this time Grilled were in their element, and Ong Tan nearly made it four at the break but his overzealous attempt came off the crossbar.
Grilled kicked off the second half in high spirits, but some tenacious defending by Winners kept them out till the 57th minute, when Hobson again rushed in from the left flank, using the free-roaming Dai-Lin and Magnusson as distractions. By this time, coach Haupai was signalling for his players to slow down their pace to protect their lead. His players were far too fired up however to listen, and continued wave after wave of attacks which left Winners no time to regroup.
A tired Lau Thien-chien clumsily blocked Chiew-Yen in the penalty area, and Hobson converted his first spot kick in style, floating a shot over bin Md Mustaffa who dived low to the left. He then pulled off his shirt and whirled it in celebration at his unexpected hat-trick. He was not done, though, and seven minutes from the end went on a mazy dribble straight through the center which ended in an almost nonchalent finish which oozed confidence. Before that, Dai-Lin created a goal of his own, parading his fancy footwork even on the heavy pitch. By the time the final whistle went, Grilled players were escatic.