Birds Held Scoreless
Tale Of Missed Chances
Grilled fell further behind in the title race as they were prevented from scoring by a resurgent Archjoker.Fc, as leaders Winning Eleven demolished second-placed Snowdogs five-nil.
While the Birds continually played catch-ball with Archjoker, the reluctance of Ma Dai-Lin
and veteran Bert Persson
to venture upfield cost Grilled dearly, as they seemed content to stroke the ball about in the center. Stand-in striker Machado often got himself isolated upfront, pinned between two defenders. Still, Grilled had at least three clear chances to put themselves ahead, the first coming as early as the eigth minute when Dai-Lin was able to lob a ball down the middle when Hobson and Machado had each drawn a defender aside with them on the counterattack.
Canny Persson totally threw his marker off balance with a shrug of the head, but behaved like a complete youngster when he pulled the ball well across goal when he had a few seconds to aim. The ball was adjudged to have come off Qing-Hong's boots, and the quickly taken long throw-in by Persson fell straight to Machado in front of goal. Machado turned and fired, but a superb reflex save by Qing-Hong kept the ball out.
Archjoker's Tang Wu-Fei troubled Dai-Lin with several searing runs, but was adequately shut out by Grilled's defensive cover. He did make a monkey out of central defender Lan Tuan-Mu
in the 34th minute, when he latched on to a pathetically weak back header by the normally solid centerback. Against a stranded Bao-Tam, Wu-Fei chose to pass instead to captain Shwu-chyn, who was unable to connect with the ball to the relief of Tuan-Mu.
The second half was even more mundane, as Grilled's midfielders appeared devoid of ideas, and on more than one occassion ended a promising attacking move with a backpass into their own half. Sole was the exception as he kept trying to find compatriot Ricard Machado
with long passes, which were easily cut out by the Archjoker back four. Peter Magunsson appeared frustrated as his runs amounted to nothing, and laid a spiteful shoulder charge on Archjoker wingback Yu-Cheung. It did not seem to be anything serious at the moment, but Yu-Cheung was bent double with pain after a minute and Magunsson was fortunate to escape the red card.
The best chance of the half fell to Tim Hobson
, as Dai-Lin jinked past Hsi-ho and Rozmin bin Mamud to present Hobson with the ball at the edge of the penalty area. Hobson's snap shot flashed past Qing-Hong, but also past the left post. After that scare, Archjoker responded by pulling more men behind the ball, and in the closing moment of the match play had degraded into a predictable routine of Seng-kar or Magunsson pushing upwards only to be bundled off the ball by two or three Archjoker players.