Enter The Old
For all the buzz surrounding Grilled's rising stars, it was a giant from the past - if not quite in the past - who outshone them all at the newbies ground. National legend Roshadi bin Che Rusli came up with a hat-trick to mark his tenth start against the Birds, and the first in four seasons, as he rallied his team to a come-from-behind 5-3 win that also ended the Birds' ninth Singapore Unofficial Championship reign to begin their second.
Grilled were on a five-match winning streak going into the derby, and were strengthened by Ling Fuquan
's return, while Abdul bin Jantan
started on the right over Shiya Shaahee
. newbies were coming off a 6-0 rout by JUtd, but kept faith with the team, with the exception of the forward line being wider.
With Grilled having won their last three against newbies, all signs pointed to the advantage swinging their way, but a potential leveller arose early in the form of a rainstorm through the entire morning. Referee Norbert Stefan Pistracher considered postponing the game, but eventually gave it the go-ahead.
For all his limited movement, Tian Yonghang
took only twelve minutes to get back to scoring ways, sloshing past Petrică Dan in an unrefined but effective manner. Javier Caamaño's rush out was likewise held up by the ankle-deep mud in his six-yard box, and Tian managed to hit it to the corner of goal before he arrived.
The pitch slowly began to dry, but all signs pointed to the players still not being very happy. Roshadi had seen it all, though, and his experience was put to good use in the 30th minute, after Qassem Madaini
was caught in two minds whether to follow him or Giulio Bollini. He picked the latter, and would sorely regret it when Roshadi showed that he had lost none of the slick shooting action that had seen him earn over a hundred caps.
Zhao Jing Wei
rose to the challenge, and the midfielder made it a good week indeed as he followed his Cup goals with one in the league. Woon Shun An
oh-so subtly curled one into his path, and Zhao supplied the finishing chip. Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
then made it 3-1 to the Birds with a booming strike from the edge.
Roshadi was far from done, though, and the old times came flooding back as Zhang Ruotian made quick work of Abdul bin Jantan
down the left. Roshadi slipped onto the inside of Ling Fuquan
like clockwork, and that simple maneuver was sufficient to allow him to get the all-important foot in.
He would then equalise in the next minute to complete a breathless sequence of play, darting past an awed Zhu Changchun
. The constrast between his graceful dribbling and Chow Ying Lee
's struggles at the other end was painful to behold, and was a stark reminder that Chow still had much to learn.
The teams began the second half again on even footing, but it was the home team who were by far the more invested. Grilled looked intimidated, to the disappointment of head coach Niculae Stanca
, and this led to newbies taking the lead in the 55th minute though Ante Skrjanc, who exploited Ling's absence to the fullest extent.
Skrjanc was booked about ten minutes later for simulation, but it was clearly newbies' game, with Edmund Kryus
just about keeping Grilled in it with a wonderful one-handed save off Leow Jing Ting. However, an expert header from the Austrian striker got through in the 82nd minute, and that was that.