After enduring successive league losses in the hopes of raising their game for the one match that mattered, Grilled lost the plot and tumbled 1-4 at home to Titus Titanium IV despite being marginally better to most neutrals.
True to their promise, the stable midfield core of Stanton, Kek-Tjiang and Siu-Yue held their own against Singapore's pride. As is mandatory in contests with such high stakes, the teams appeared in no hurry to risk all, but a flick-on by Mei-Kuen to the lanky Singaporean international Tang Chien-Hui lowered Grilled's resolve.
Chien-Hui followed up in good time as he more than compensated for his underperforming strikers, catching Pakpao unawares on a routine clearance. Bona tried vainly to cover two men, but had to leave Chien-Hui to Harlow's care. The man-of-the-match fought his way to a place on the byline and zeroed a stiff rammed goal in from an extremely acute angle. Grilled's supporters, who had seen even play from both sides, couldn't believe their luck.
Worse was to happen, as Titus began owning the airspace above Grilled's territory with their height. Rightback Chan Dae-Young, far from being troubled by Grilled's skilful Dai-Lin and Martinsson, became a valuable offensive resource as he banged down several balls for his forwards. He showed expert cushioning technique in the 36th minute when he maintained control on a pacy through pass with the chest, and chipped the rushing Harlow ably.
As some fans began filing out of the exit, Grilled gritted their teeth and mounted a sustained assault that could have saved the game. Stanton was not equal to the task, unfortunately, as he wasted a golden return pass from Martinsson and later delayed a shot too much and ended up shooting into young goalie Wang Yukpui's arms.
In between, Jan Langeland
did his duty as a forward as Jon Andrea Rottman
deftly redirected the ball to him. Sizing up the circumstances, Langeland took one look and bent in a severely dipping ball from just outside the box that left Grilled with just a ray of hope.
Titus' captain Zulharisan bin Jantan was on song and couldn't put a foot wrong as he dominated Grilled's midfield for stretches at a time in the second half. Grilled were understandably the more urgent team, and did force Titus into some questionable challenges that yielded two yellow cards. Martinsson was sadly lacking, as he never looked like breaking his scoreless streak of six games and counting.
Bin Jantan effectively killed off the match when he outdribbled Bona in the middle to sink in a fourth for Titus, and Grilled appeared to recognise that as they began passing aimlessly. Bing Kong-Phay had a penalty appeal turned down, and Martinsson sparked old memories with a lovely curler from a free kick that had Yukpui at full stretch, but these were mere footnotes to Grilled's drop down to II.2.