Trip to the Semis
Grilled's two best footballers of this campaign were again the men to watch as they rampaged into the Cup semi-finals with a very flattering 5-1 victory, despite playing away before a packed Dead Arena. Shen Kek-Tjiang
and Ola Martinsson
collected a brace each, and Jon Andrea Rottman
's late fifth was just the icing.
extreme power's U-20 midfield star Kok Leng Li was one to watch. He had been on the bench two seasons before when the two sides clashed, and his attacking instincts were well honed and a joy to watch. Grilled's own forays were well-timed though, and while defences have learnt to pack Hidde van Liere
's side, they often forget the blistering pace of Paullin on the other side.
Just as he did to assist in the winning goal against Ampang FC on Sunday, Paullin's answer to beefy English fullback Bay Mulrain was just to turn on the nitro. Calmer finishing should have let him bag the opener, but the merely decent shot he filed was insufficient against extreme's Niklas Hedtorp.
extreme's own firerod Mohamad Feriza returned tit for tat against makeshift rightback Fabian Bona
, and put through a low cross that Dutch forward Eward Veth almost got onto. Harlow closed the angles properly, and Veth's sliding try didn't threaten Grilled's goal.
Harlow covered most of the field with a long goal-kick, and Siu-Yue and Langeland kept the defence guessing with some one-touch passes. Shen saw his chance and began a run through the middle, and was not picked up till too late. Tom Karlsson tried to herd him off, but Shen seems to have inherited Zhan Ju-Hau's one-track mind and just kept up his dribbling. He gave Grilled the lead with a powerful blast.
Kok Leng Li threw extreme back nose to nose with an exquisitely timed chip that allowed right winger Olaf Thomas to break Grilled's offside trap. Falkbo for all his experience had no solution, and Thomas simply had to deliver an accurate cross for Veth to pass the ball across Harlow into the far side of goal.
Mohamad Feriza received the first booking of the day for a strong, late tackle, but it had far greater significance as van Liere took the free-kick quickly. Ola Martinsson
was left alone with backpedalling German midfielder Guenter Mugrauer between him and goal. Now, Mugrauer was a big lad who proved near invincible in the air, having won his share of headers, but up against Martinsson's skill his high center of gravity was a liability.
Martinsson showed him the ball, then drew it back and nutmegged Mugrauer with panache. Mugrauer took a second to turn, and by then it was far too late as Martinsson's outrageous trick had him metres ahead. Niklas Hedtorp, taken completely by surprise with the threat. stayed on his line and Martinsson just had to get his placing right.
There was still some time left in the 33rd minute, and Martinsson made full use of it as he hunted down a casual backpass by Karlsson. His efforts helped Langeland to retake possession, and a precise return ball saw Martinsson ram the ball into Hedtorp from point blank. The spin and power on his shot allowed it to bounce in agonizingly for the home supporters, however.
Those goals saw Martinsson overtake substitute striker Ulf Hjortlind
as Grilled's career leading top Cup scorer, and allowed him to reach the 150-goal career milestone. No wonder that his celebrations took some time to die down, and almost had the referee reaching for a card.
extreme power looked desperately for a way to claw their way back in, but Leng Li was the only one showing any true creativity and with Kek-Tjiang keeping a close eye on him, that wasn't enough. Paullin could even have made it 4-1 in the 51st minute as Grilled pushed up the wings, but he directed van Liere's dropping cross into the side netting. Paullin's speed had been a real issue for the opponent, and it was ironic that he was only put into the side at the last minute over Asher Stanton
Mugrauer appeared to have been tripped by Falkbo in the penalty area after sixty-five minutes, but in a landmark decision the referee decided that the German had fallen far too easily for his taste and instead booked him. Sporadic booing was heard throughout the stadium as the home fans made their displeasure shown. To be fair, referee Dennis Pedersen had a clear view.Hidde van Liere
began delving into his library of moves, and produced about ten minutes of world-class ballwork. Au-Yong Siu-Yue
provided more than decent support, and when van Liere's low cross whistled across the extreme power goal, it was a matter of who would be in the right place. Shen was, hitting the ball with his shin and surely putting the game beyond reach.
extreme power's Claes Månsson showed real grit as he almost made something out of nothing, shaking off both Bona and Falkbo, but Tuan-Mu arrived in time to make the saving tackle. Top Hong Kong defender Miao Chin-Chien then got a yellow card, then Jon Andrea Rottman
volleyed home an afterthought.