No Way Through
With their recent turnaround attracting nearly seventy thousand to The Cooking Pot, hearkening back to the old days, Grilled picked up their fifth league victory on the trot with a 3-1 result against newbies are newbies, who had no answer to the strategy that had done them in the previous week.
The Birds kept the same defence and attack that had served them so well, while shuffling the midfield pack slightly by dropping Lefébure for the first time this season. The visitors, despite getting nary a sniff last Sunday against the same formation, kept faith with their usual 3-5-2 in the hope that Roshadi and Yang would conjure up something, if kept well-supplied.
newbies had the second part of that equation firmly in place at least, as they quickly forced Grilled into a familiar-looking defensive posture despite being away. In the fifth minute, Roshadi spied a gap between Vukota and Behr, and surged through to meet Yang's through pass. Valdir appeared unsure of whether to rush out, but the decision was taken from him as Roshadi snatched at the shot and curled it wide.
The action shifted to the newbies' end, with Mohd Safri the main player in Grilled's offensive line. His confidence was through the roof, having just led the national U-20 team to a credible 2-2 draw against Algeria that saw both sides reduced to ten men, with several injuries, scoring both of Singapore's goals in the process. Chow wasn't impressed however by Mohd Safri's selfishness in taking his shot from a bad angle, rather than crossing.
Grilled's opener would eventually come from the head of Mohd Safri, after Bögengang delivered a corner straight to the young striker. The newbies defence had ignored him in favour of the more imposing bodies of Behr and Josefsson, among others, and would pay dearly as Mohd Safri rose like a salmon to send a header crashing in off the crossbar.
The match was still very much alive as newbies always looked the more likely to score, but the loss of their goalkeeper Sim Kian Eng to a twisted ankle sowed further discord in their already-fragile defence. Even then, they managed the best chance of the half, with Yang Hongxin looking odds-on to score after leaving Olsson flat-footed. Valdir proved his worth then, with an amazing reaction save.
Han's only adjustment when the game restarted was to put Erik Back
on for Anders Josefsson
, and the former Luxembourg U-20 midfielder took just nine minutes to leave his mark on the game. Using his fresh legs to good use as Dorogan started a counterattack, Back outflanked the flat newbies back three, and sidefooted the ball past substitute goalie Loh Dong Da with ease.
Mohd Safri's popularity with the fans then went through the roof after he tracked back and brought Iglesia down with a meaty but fair challenge, even managing to kick the ball on to Kim while lying on the ground. Björn Olsson
, who had been caught out of possession, decided to make the most out of it by joining the counterattack, and collected his first goal for Grilled, after eleven appearances, with an unschooled but perfectly adequate strike. Olsson made a point of rushing back to thank Mohd Safri, who hobbled for a bit after that.
For all of Grilled's deadliness on the break, it was still a wonder how newbies, with all their attacking talent, had failed to score in over 150 minutes. Their time finally came, as the Grilled defence could do nothing against an intricate passing move around the ende of the penalty area, which ended with Bogdan Hubka nudging the ball into the net. However, it would prove to be nothing more than a souvenir, with Grilled claiming all three points again.