In a charged game which both combatants really needed three points from, Titus and Grilled instead had to be content with dividing the meager spoils amongst themselves. This helped neither as they slunk to seventh and sixth respectively, but prevented a defeat for either side which may have spelt probable doom.
Once, they had occupied the top spots in the S-League. Now, after some disastrous results in recent matches, Titus and Grilled had to go for the jugular just to survive. Tang Mei-Kuen, one of the league's top scorers this season, showed just why as he sidestepped Bona and launched a grounder that whistled past the upright.
Titus Titanium had Grilled pinned down around their own penalty area for long stretches, feeding on the support of their long-suffering fans. Having conceded seventeen and scored just once in their last four league games, they were desperate to break out of the rut. Tang Hong-Yang, the sole scorer in that sad streak, was overeager and splattered Paullin, receiving a straight yellow from the no-nonsense Aviv Crow.
The Titus supporters behind Yukpui's goal groaned in the 27th minute when van Liere, who had been switched to the left side, tore the defenders on that side apart. They had seen this prelude too many times, and sure as anything van Liere's quick square ball went past Yukpui to Kek-Tjiang at the far post, who just had to walk it in.
Ex-national Jiu Thuy became the second player to be booked as he impeded Spirig intentionally on a good break by Grilled. He followed that up with a roaring sizzler from some twenty metres out, for which Harlow had to thank Bona for taking the bullet and deflecting it out of bounds.
Well-travelled defender Yue Wee-Cheong, who had stints in Sweden and Peru, went down after a fair tackle by Kek-Tjiang and had to be supported off the pitch. Player-coach Shen Tu-duc subbed himself in, and made an immediate impact as Titus made a brilliant chance for Chan Dae-Young a minute later. Dae-Young was blocked off by Paullin just in time.
The blocked shot was taken up by right winger Bing Kong-Phay, a born and bred Titus favourite who left Bona behind with an astounding change of pace. Harlow made as if to come out, but Kong-Phay shot early and true to send the previously silent home fans into a frenzy.
Grilled's defenders were sluggish as Titus lulled them with long stretches of horizontal play in the midfield area, and were unable to react when several Titus attackers suddenly broke into a run. Their passing found a free man in Miao Ee-Van, who skipped by Bona to whack a piledriver high into the net.
Titus' fans had not stopped their songs when Dani Spirig
took the ball past Mohd Sofi on the sidelines, barely keeping it in play. There was no one to stop him after that, though, and with Grilled's two strikers heavily marked down in the middle, Spirig smartly played it well back to Paullin. The rightback for the day sprinted with the ball for some metres before putting it in at the bottom left corner without additional fuss.
Watching two precious points evaporate from a home game, Titus really brought pressure to bear on Grilled's backline, with national midfielder Tang Chien-Hui always at the forefront and clearly the best man on the field. Mohd Sofi bin Yusof and Tang Hong-Yang had great chances thrown their way, and only the brillance of Clair Harlow
's reflexes denied them the winning goal.