Tian Off Mark
A familiar scoreline once again stared Grilled's supporters in the face at the final whistle, but they could find little fault with this one, as it showed that Grilled had made it 6-2 over newbies are newbies. The visitors, whose squad has been cut to the bones, were never likely to take much from this Jurong derby, though their two goals should help encourage their fans until the new season dawns.
It was a new-look Grilled midfield that streamed onto the field, with veterans Abdul bin Jantan
and Alex Fonseca
starting, alongside with Seytek Djekshenkulov
, who relished his move in from the left wing. lu Zunwen
was on the bench, while Zhu Changchun
was nowhere to be seen at all, with a visibly delighted Teo Yong Yau
handling the vacant flank on his league debut.
newbies continued with their attacking focus, with their deadly 7-11 wing pair of Yue Haoping and Zhang Ruotian featuring out wide, with Yue supporting Roshadi bin Che Rusli on the right - truly a combination for any defender to fear. Grilled captain Qaseem Madaini took up the responsibility, but with his recent form in tatters, there was always the sense that they would eventually get one over him.
The Birds' solution then was straightforward enough, and it was simply to outscore the opponents. Having a far more worldly midfield helped a lot, and Seytek in particular was in his element, sweeping up in the air and displaying an uncanny knack of knowing when to slow the game down and when to let loose; he assisted Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
in the 19th minute, hitting a first-time cross that Mohd Safri touched in.
newbies were chafing under Grilled's patient buildups, and a momentary loss of composure in the 31st minute led to Mohd Safri's second, after some to-and-froing between him and Paolo Iten
. A third came four minutes later through Tian Yonghang
, who bisected newbies' central defence bursting forward from deep, leaving Wang You De grasping at straws.
newbies, who had been almost completely shut out for the first forty-five, threw all caution to the wind and took larger risks from the restart. While that led to an easy fourth by Tian after an ambitious pass by Peter Haley failed to come off, they did get themselves into some good-looking positions, and began to knock hard on the doors of Grilled's defence.
All their efforts came to a head in the 65th minute, and as expected it was down to their wing talents. Yue had attracted most of Grilled's players to his side, before putting it square and long for Zhang on the other side. Zhang made his way at the Grilled penalty area with impressive speed, and all Lin Jungui
could do was to herd him to the outside. That was however insufficient, as Zhang lobbed Dexter Stacey
with a perfectly-weighted lob.
Perhaps stung by that, Lin was especially determined to get his head onto the ball when Iten crossed it nice and high from the right side in the 70th minute. He appeared to have gotten off the ground too quickly, resulting in a rather soft effort that Wang had covered, but neither of them counted on He Ruifang throwing himself in the way and inadvertently deflecting it into the other corner. There was some deliberation in the control room before Lin was credited with the goal on the scoreboard.
newbies kept up with it and pulled another back through experienced forward Chew Long Huat, who picked the best spot to wait for a free-kick in the 80th minute, before Tian Yonghang
was played in by Chow Ying Lee
and completed the fourth hat-trick of his career late on. Slavcho Tzonkov
replaced Lin Jungui
with two minutes to go, and managed to rack up maybe a dozen passes in the ending stages by moving it between himself and Madaini.