The Old One-Zero
Much maligned goalkeeper Clair Harlow
produced a series of superb saves as Grilled retained their three-point lead at the head of II.2 and enter a double-digit series of wins. Hidde van Liere
was granted the day off and not even in the stands, while Langeland failed his last fitness test by a whisker, so Martinsson again was the lone man up, with Shen filling in on the right.
Ampang FC eschewed counter-attacking as they planned to harass and break down possession, and since Grilled had exactly the same idea, the first half-hour was snooze-inducing. The seventy-six thousand watchers were clearly not appreciative of a defensive 4-5-1 at home, though protest songs were few as they realised the greater need of entering the Singapore Cup semi-finals.
Grilled's raid through Quah Han Kok
was snuffed out by mejkal, and in the 30th minute strong defender Burkett was carded as he deliberately followed through on a sliding challenge. Grilled had plenty of their own defending to do, and Falkbo covered up superbly for a visibly distracted Bona.
Harlow made a hash of a routine backpass clearance just before the interval, as the low flight of his kick caused it to bounce back off the referee and fall to lurking striker Frederik Abbink. Abbink immediately tried a lob, but Harlow's cat-like agility let him get a hand up and fall on the loose ball.
Ampang's midfield was the more accomplished, and Shen made all the difference as he often raced to the rescue from his flank, though abandoning it in the meantime. Harlow had another great save to make from Abbink, as after several minutes of unbroken Ampang possession, Swedish winger Gabir al-Rab`i shook clear of Tuan-Mu and left the ball for Abbink to take a surprise shot. The ball swerved wickedly throughout, but Harlow stood his ground and fisted it far out.
Seventy-nine must be Martinsson's new lucky number - he scored the winner in the last league match in that minute, and as it approached again, the more active Grilled fans probably couldn't belive their eyes. In a near carbon copy of last Sunday's events, Grilled broke away, this time through Paullin.
The entire stadium was riveted as the speedy Swiss teen blazed past Burkett haughtily, and instantly let go the obvious pass to the centre. Martinsson was onto it, and a little body feint, a dreamlike turn later, he was clear of mejkal and well equipped to crash the ball into the back of the Ampang net.
It might even have been two for him as Grilled charged from the kick-off, but this time Dutch goalie Harold van der Zande was magnificent, diving low to save Martinsson's cannonball. Han Kok and Falkbo then got cautioned for some overly vicious tackles, but the points most importantly stayed in the bag.