History Newly Made
The first derby between Singapore's two-oldest West-based clubs still in operation, 27 seasons in the making, ended with a solid 0-3 away victory for the Birds at the newbies ground, a result that took them to third in the table.
It was a scoreline that almost no-one would have expected, with no side even keeping the attack-oriented newbies are newbies team below two goals in any competitive game this season. In addition, they had won all three of their home matches, each time scoring four or more goals.
A big part of that enviable record could be attributed to legendary local forward Roshadi bin Che Rusli, 29, who is currently chasing his hundredth national cap. With over 200 career goals to his name, and six out of six in the league, few would have bet against Roshadi plundering some against Grilled at his accustomed hunting ground.
This was moreover a Grilled side that looked utterly drained, if ecstatic, after their feat against seluraralc last weekend, and appeared to have settled for keeping the score down with a four-man backline - until Mohd Safri nipped through to chip Sim Kian Eng out of nowhere in the 22nd minute.
It was a tale of contrasting fortunes as Roshadi, whom Mohd Safri had praised as one of his role models before the match, appeared out of sorts at the other end. Roshadi clearly didn't enjoy being manhandled by Björn Olsson
, who had been assigned to shadow him, and found his vaunted mobility severely limited by a combination of the Swede and the wet weather.
Chow Ying Lee
kept rather more of his speed, perhaps due to the firmer ground in the newbies' half, in turn a result of most of the game being played in Grilled's final third. Chow rationed his scorching runs, and one of those won a free-kick after he sidestepped Polish defender Bogdan Hubka and had a clear path to goal.
The Grilled fans in the stadium waited with bated breath for the red card to be shown for denying a goalscoring opportunity, and were incredulous when referee Luis Kindelan gave the free-kick but kept his cards in his pocket. On top of that, Bögengang slipped on his run-up, and Kian Eng simply had to bend down to pick the ball up.
Neither Chow nor Bögengang were put off, however, and Chow Ying Lee
blazed past Hubka again in the 30th minute to put his deserved goal away, his fifth in the league after a slow start. Then, barely three minutes later, Bögengang latched onto a cross from Dorogan and finished spectacularly for a three-goal lead.
Grilled's travelling support could barely believe their eyes, with newbies consistently having about seventy percent of the possession. They just could not find a way to breach the Grilled defence, and the closest they came was by a magical lob by Roshadi that beat Valdir but dropped inches too far.
The extremely animated Grilled coach, Han Lik-Tsun
, was by this time completely drenched shouting instructions in the rain, but the look on his face suggested that he wouldn't have traded his job for anything in the world. In contrast, newbies coach Gong Wing-Fung, Han's senior in the U-20 team, stayed in the dugout with his face in his hands.
Gong ended up making no changes in the second half, and with good reason as his side were completely dominating the match; if there was any problem, it was the attack, and Gong had nobody near anywhere as good as Roshadi or his veteran strike partner Yang Hongxin.
Han would pull South Korean ex-international midfielder Kyou-Chull Kim
off for Anders Josefsson
on the hour mark, and after a close shave involving Adrián Álava, withdrew Olsson for Quah to stabilize the game. Olsson received a standing ovation from the away section, having completely neutralised Roshadi.
newbies are newbies upped their game in an effort to claw their way back, but Grilled coped without too much incident, with Quah using his experience to whittle away the remaining minutes.