Wong So Right
The Birds closed in on their first league title in thirteen seasons with their record victory against a haplessly-hobbled UNITED SKANKS lineup, as -= Manchester United =-'s 0-3 defeat away at Scallop Soccer Team means that they now have to overcome a massive thirteen-goal difference to manufacture an extremely unlikely recovery. Wong Ping Shun
took the opportunity to taste his first hat-trick since his arrival, then went one better before it ended.
SKANKS' mid-season slip into administration meant that they were restricted from using their professional players, which led to the forlorn sight of much-loved entertainers like Jabulani Nxumalo being seated in the stands, watching the inevitable slaughter of their amateur ranks. Several rested Grilled regulars such as Gene Filippone
kept them company, perhaps also discussing their future plans.
There could be no hard feelings at how it would play out on the pitch, with weeks of unrelenting thrashings having inured the remaining hardcore SKANKS fans to what was to come. They had long adapted to taking it all in good cheer, as they encouraged their neighbourhood lads with witty, and sometimes unprintable, ditties.
The home side put up fair resistance for the first fifteen minutes, though partly as Grilled were in no particular hurry to turn the screws. With the players having been reminded not to expose themselves needlessly to injuries or bookings, the Birds kept their game nice and tidy, even as they experimented with the unorthodox tactics of having the wingers interchange with their inner midfielders.
Not unexpectedly, it was Low Aik Jia
who couldn't wait, and the baby of the team embarked upon a reckless dash as the mood moved him. The SKANKS defence were barely equipped to handle such pace, and there was nobody left to keep tabs on Wong Ping Shun
as he silently crept forward in tandom to finish the cross off.
Remco van der Ban
, making only his second league start, wasn't about to let the occasion pass him either, as he behaved more like a forward than the centreback he was supposed to be. This got him a card in the 23rd minute, which however only played into his hands as the flustered Ajit Ganguly hit the free-kick right at his heels. van der Ban happily trapped the ball, and sent it beyond Lai Ah Dong with a powerful drive.
SKANKS were sunk by the half-hour as first a header off a corner from Clément Meyer
, and then a quickfire double from Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
, underlined the huge gulf between the sides. Not that acting SKANKS head coach Harry Berkowitz minded too much, judging from how he was chatting amiably with Djan Bacelar
by the sidelines.
With the match being tied up, and news from Hot and Spicy Scallop Arena that United were trailing by two, Bacelar likely doubled down on taking it easy during the half-time instructions. This was evident by how much of the second half was played at nearly walking pace by the Birds, which the home side were happy enough to indulge them in.
Of course, this equilibrium could hardly have held till the end, and this time it was Tian Yonghang
who got impatient. Drawing upon the intelligence that has long been a hallmark of his style, the Grilled captain made it look almost easy as he slung two goals in as many minutes, before feeding Wong Ping Shun
for his second of the day.
Remco van der Ban
likewise made a pair, as Low absolutely tore up the left side, before he went off slightly unwillingly for Qassem Madaini
. Chow Ying Lee
, who had a quiet day, departed too, giving Leong Wan Kang
five minutes to try and make his mark - which he did in a way, by positioning himself behind Fahmi Thabrani, and getting knocked to the ground.
That was a stonewall if silly penalty to give, and Wong stepped up to collect his hat-trick with good grace. Grilled were not done, however, and Mohd Safri showed his less-admirable face, as he appeared to deliberately run into a SKANKS defender. Portuguese referee Alex Pinto shrugged and awarded it, to some taunting from the gallery, and Wong made it count once more.