Robbery Held Up
Grilled entered their final match of the season against Robbie Football Club without much expectation, which was just as well since Rapala FC's straightforward win against SpartanSG rendered the Birds' deeds mostly academic. Neither did Tian Yonghang
succeed in his quest to equal Rotteveel and Bögengang's league goals record, but the team did thank their fans with three goals against the near-unyielding Robbie defence.
Despite their terrible start, Robbie have come good in the past month, as they achieved wins over TTTNW and SpartanSG, held JUtd to a draw, and lost to newbies by a single goal away - a completely respectable record that would have seen them easily in mid-table or higher had it been extended over the entire season. Quite incredibly, Robbie coach Sima Zheng-Yang did all that without a single recognized forward and a relatively fresh backline, among whom 26 year-old Aleandro Savagnone was the eldest.
Grilled were nothing if not up to the challenge, although spirits were dampened slightly as news came in that Rapala FC's Daniel Leaşcu and newbies' Roshadi bin Che Rusli had put their sides into the lead, almost before Grilled kicked off. The players didn't let that affect them too much, and adapted quickly into today's slightly-modified lineup that had the midfield and attack play about ten metres higher than normal, and the defence moving wide to counter the threat of Konstantin Trottmann, Robbie's designated offensive outlet.
With it being goals or bust, the Birds attacked with abandon, only to be rebuffed time and again by the visitors. It would take something really special to get past this well-drilled backline, and Seytek Djekshenkulov
came up with just that. Zhu Changchun
helped him on his way with a perfectly-weighted ball at his estimated position, but Djekshenkulov then outdid it by striking the ball ever so sweetly in mid-flight, catching Ştefan Teodorof off guard.
The team sensed blood, and Shiya Shaahee
went for the kill two minutes later, sprinting past both Pierre Jolly and Gianrico Persicchio with a sudden change of pace. He made it as far as the edge of the six-yard box before raking it across to Chow Ying Lee
, but Chow wasn't on the same wavelength, and his hasty step forward only sent it flying wide.
There would be some cheer as the match at The Cooking Pot got bogged down again, with TTTNW taking the lead against newbies. However, with Joni Huhtamäki making it 2-0 for Rapala with the Spartans showing little sign that they could stage a comeback, Grilled had little reason to be optimistic, particularly with TTTNW's Heng Rong Kim being sent off.
Any hopes were then crushed as Leaşcu and Roshadi again scored in the same minute, almost as if pre-arranged, and the 37 year-old Roshadi then showed why he had managed a century of games for the national side with a stunning free-kick. Grilled then got a problem of their own, as Robbie's Plan A of overloading the right flank worked out, and Savagnone crossed in for Trottmann to head home. Still, Edmund Kryus
should have gotten to that first, but the Polish goalie was worryingly unconvincing in coming out.
It was all too much for Zhu, who hacked at Mario Visonà's legs in an effort to get Grilled going, and he was booked despite coming away with the ball. With Rapala coasting along, Grilled only had themselves to play for, but seemingly not even Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
could bag it for all of the Birds' many opportunities.
With Roshadi getting a fourth, it was clear that Grilled's title dreams would have to be put off for another season. However, this strangely raised the quality of play as Grilled's players were back to their normal selves, and Chow Ying Lee
got the breakthrough in the 80th minute, as he uncharacteristically fired from range, and got it into the opposite top corner.
then confirmed his Man of the Match accolades, surprisingly his first for Grilled, with some collected dribbling to get a headstart on Robbie skipper Chad Okeefe, before avoiding a scoreless season at last gasp by banging it in off Teodorof's hand.