|Season 52||W||1 - 6||Tournament (Playoffs)|
|Season 51||W||3 - 1||League|
|Season 51||W||0 - 7||League|
|Season 29||W||5 - 0||Friendly|
Defence Laid Low
Grilled managed handsomely without man of the month Zhu Changchun
, as Low Aik Jia
slotted in seamlessly at left wing for his first league start of the campaign, which he marked with a splendid brace. 33 year-old Abdul bin Jantan
led the team from Zhu's position to an unassailable four-nil first-half lead, and although the hosts struck twice after that, it was not enough to prevent a third league loss to the Birds.
After straight wins against Dream Seals and Young Tigers, Robbie Football Club came to a standstill against The Void Deck last week. As Grilled could not hope to replicate the latter's safety-first approach, they had to find their own way, which in this case was the addition of Low.
It was a risky move to say the least, with the developing winger reportedly sluggish in training, but the fans wouldn't have known, given his astonishing big-game mentality. With Aleandro Savagnone out for RFC, the Birds saw less reason yet to be cautious, and went at the hosts from all angles.
RFC were clearly banking on their right flank to deliver, relying on the height of Janusz Nalewkowicz, Konstantin Trottmann and Milo Nieuwenburg to stake out territory on their side, whenever they retrived possession from anywhere else. This worked well enough, at least until the 28th minute when Chow Ying Lee
burst through the middle. Víctor Moliner stepped up to stop him, but that left space for Low to zip in and cut loose for 1-0.
That opener was a right relief, goals being famously hard to come by against a side that had let in just six in the league for the whole of last season. That happened to be just what Grilled were built for, though, and Wong Ping Shun
made it two from the penalty spot, after Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
was forcefully restrained within the area. In an amusing addenum, Ling Fuquan
got himself booked for removing his shirt in celebration, despite having nothing to do with the penalty.
Fortunately, Ling managed to keep his emotions under wrap when Low got his second just two minutes later. Woon Shun An
had ripped a diagonal strike that bounced wickedly just in front of Dennis Damkjær, who did well enough just to ward it aside and off the goalpost. Low was arriving, however, and gleefully cleaned up into the unguarded net.
RFC's will was clearly eroded as their pride in their backline was shaken, and they made a rare error when Luigi Antonio De Rosa tried to play a blind pass wide to Srećko Radonja. Tian Yonghang
saw that coming all the way, picked it off, and embellished his milestone century league start with a calm finish.
Few could doubt that the points were going Grilled's way by the time Alessandro Giulivo blew for half-time, and the question became whether RFC would capitulate completely. They didn't, and were back to their usual indomitable selves, after what must have been a real tirade by coach Sima Zheng-Yang in the dressing room.
Of course, that by itself couldn't compensate for the fact that they were just not designed to find goals out of nowhere, as Nalewkowicz ran about unceasingly but was simply outnumbered wherever he went. It was tough enough trying to get the ball from Grilled's experienced midfield, and Milan Gulikers got carded trying in the 66th.
Their luck changed for the better after Niculae Stanca
made a tactical substitution, pulling the yellow-carded Ling out for Qassem Madaini
, and tasking his defence to focus on the wide positions. Ironically, that gave Nalewkowicz the space he craved, and after the big Pole won a corner, Srećko Radonja polished it off by climbing above Abdul bin Jantan
Gulikers then got a second back from a quick counter down the right side, as RFC's Plan A clicked perfectly. It was by then far too late for them, sadly, and Grilled were happy enough to slow the game down till the ninety minutes were up.