Four By Two
The Birds went a long way towards demonstrating themselves worthy of the runners-up spot, by crushing old rivals newbies are newbies 5-1 before a good-sized attendance of over seventy-two thousand at The Cooking Pot. While perhaps not as famous as the Rapala series in this respect, the Old West Derby has still seen a total of at least seven goals in each of its latest six iterations. Although that mark was not met today, few Grilled fans would complain about the margin.
With newbies having won the last game 5-3, Grilled were well up to settle that score, especially with the visitors missing injured main striker Huang Kangyan. That said, Huang had missed the clash at the newbies ground through injury too, only for Roshadi bin Che Rusli to punish the overconfident Birds soundly.
For all that and Roshadi's heroics, Grilled's Qassem Madaini
admitted before kick-off that he would still rather face him than Huang, who despite long layoffs has managed to tie for league top scorer thus far. Huang's departure played a large part in newbies' defeat to the Spartans last weekend, which left them once again pinning their hopes on old faithful Roshadi, who led the team out in a statement of intent.
Unfortunately, it began to look like a case of willing spirit but weakened flesh for the soon-to-be 38 year-old, who never quite looked like adding to his insane haul of 347 career goals. Italian forward Giulio Bollini tried to step in, but it was clear that he was missing the extra feet of space that Huang would surely have eked out for him.
This meant that Grilled did most of the meaningful attacking, which Petrică Dan worked very hard to deal with in the newbies defence. The Romanian contributed mightily to salvaging several close shaves, including an effort play in the 36th minute when his leaping in Woon Shun An
's direction was probably the difference between a sure score and the ball shaking the goalframe instead.
Forty-three minutes had passed without the scoreboard lighting up, in stark contrast to previous editions of this fixture, and newbies were looking more and more like grabbing one themselves. Niculae Stanca
was having none of that, and began yelling instructions, some of them unprintable. Incredibly, this had an immediate effect, as lu Zunwen
tried a lob that was somewhat outside his usual range on a whim, and saw it sail over the unlucky Javier Caamaño.
Fond memories of Grilled's three in thirty seconds against SKF F.C. soon returned, as they repeated the trick beginning in the 21st second of the last minute of the first half. Zhang Ruotian's counterattack attempt had drawn the newbies up, and Zhao Jing Wei
was again on hand to penalise such tardiness, as he went direct to double Grilled's lead.
was next to find the net, as he ended another three-game drought with a sweet low shot on the outside of Caamaño. The 26 year-old had been untouchable in his role in the hole before that, and it only seemed right that he would get a permanent record of his contributions.
It got even worse for newbies, who were still reeling from that triple blow when the Birds burst forward for the few remaining seconds. Abdul bin Jantan
was the provider this time as he kept his body between Juha Hatara and the ball, before swivelling around to knock a classic cross right into the middle of newbies' penalty area. Ling Fuquan
muscled his way through to get enough of his head on it, to send it over the line.
It had to be game over then, as the Grilled team marched into the tunnel to loud acclaim from their supporters. It was a much more relaxed second forty-five minutes, which saw Ling nearly claim his first double, before Giulio Bollini earned a consolation by peeling away from Madaini at just the right moment to attack Yue Haoping's sudden cross.
The usually hearty applause upon a substitution was noticeably more muted when the transfer-listed Shiya Shaahee
entered for Abdul bin Jantan
in the 75th minute, but to the winger's credit, he immediately got his head down very professionally and began pinning Zhang to the sidelines. However, Zhang still managed to get a shot off, but Edmund Kryus
was up to that one.
There would be one more goal in the game, as Chow Ying Lee
charged through to make it 5-1, with Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
coming within inches of making it six. Tian, the standout performer of the day, had been booked for a fairly innocuous foul in between, ending an amazing run of 53 competitive matches without a card for a player who is looking like an absolute coach's dream.