|Season 57||L||5 - 0||Tournament (Playoffs)|
|Season 55||L||3 - 4||Tournament (Group Phase)|
|Season 51||W||3 - 0||Tournament (Group Phase)|
|Season 50||D||2 - 2||Tournament (Group Phase)|
|Season 48||W||5 - 2||Tournament (Group Phase)|
Champs March On
The 'A' Team
Grilled's flickering title hopes were officially extinguished today, after they fell to a 2-4 home defeat to prime challengers Be Champions FC. The meeting had been hyped up as the first derby between the Jurong clubs, but as with their two most recent tournament clashes, the Birds could find no purchase against their increasingly-formidable opponents.
It had not been long since their miserable 0-5 SG Super Cup loss against the eventual winners, and the hosts were desperate to avoid a repeat. Hat-trick tormentor Foo Ah De got an especially strong crowd reaction when he trooped out, but otherwise the Grilled supporters were more interested in puffing up their own team.
There remained one huge concern - Krystian Rykowski
's continued not-very-convincing tenure in goal - and more than one commentator had suggested that the Birds recruit a better goalkeeper, if they wished to continue challenging. In response, Djan Bacelar
reaffirmed his trust in the journeyman Pole, but even he must have been regretting it when Rykowski promptly let Ali Ütkün's very saveable toepoke slip between his hands within four minutes.
Mind, it was a fine counterattack started by a brilliant long pass out of defence by former Team Remy83 sweeper Agasthya Vaidhyanathan, but one could still expect better. Vice-captain Zhao Jing Wei
looked as if he wanted a word with Rykowski, but thought better of it and simply retrieved the ball from the net.
Grilled were actually doing fairly well against three national squad midfielders, to the extent that they held some sixty percent of possession throughout; unfortunately, the visitors were only too ready to back each other up in defence, a habit that the Birds never quite picked up. This was shown up when Dávid Budai beat Wong Ping Shun
on the inside, and no help was forthcoming for the outnumbered Clément Meyer
. The Frenchman decided to stick with Ütkün, which left Arnold Pang with the space to pick out his spot for 2-0.
The Cooking Pot was severely displeased at this, but also somewhat mollified after awhile. With getting the ball not really a problem, Grilled's main concern was picking the Champions' lock, and they finally found the formula in the 25th minute. Some creative turns by Tian Yonghang
opened the tinest of cracks, into which Chow Ying Lee
sped as Tian squeezed a pass towards him. Skipping Dorin Bejan's tackle, Chow then put it just beyond Edmundo Ortega's reach.
The Birds were getting more into tune as the half progressed, and they might even have equalised from Wong Ping Shun
's thunderous free-kick from right in front of the penalty area. Ortega was not an international for nothing, though, and the athletic 30 year-old Guatemalan went down in a flash to divert the low effort.
It remained an entertaining half, and the only complaint that the home fans expressed was being behind at the break. Their wish would soon be granted, as Wong's first unchecked foray down his flank brought havoc in Be Champion FC's box. With Ortega crowded out and Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
doing his level best to distract, Gene Filippone
managed to get a foot on the incoming cross to score his first league goal of the campaign.
Grilled were beginning to dream again, and had prevailing form carried on, they would have been expected to get a third. Unfortunately, Be Champion FC's undisputed star power came into play, as their national core proved to have an almost telepathic understanding in advancing. This time, the Birds defended admirably, at least up to the point when Ang Tse Jian cut infield and unleashed a sizzler high into the roof of the net.
Rykowski could not really be blamed for this one, with Ang's delivery just too accurate, but the poor goalie would soon be hauled up again. A goal deficit was not necessarily the end, but leaking a tissue-soft fourth was - and that was just what happened, with Rykowski very questionably deciding to dash out of the area when Filippone had it covered, before hesitating and making to retreat. By then it was too late, as Vaidhyanathan had seen his chance, and sent a simple lob into the unguarded goalmouth.
The stadium was ominously silent as Rykowski jogged back with head bowed, and it was telling that even Bacelar crossed his arms and turned away at that gaffe. The Birds did threaten the Champions several times after this, but would not find the breakthrough they needed to make a contest of it.