|Season 58||L||1 - 3||Tournament (Playoffs)|
|Season 57||W||2 - 4||League|
|Season 57||L||2 - 4||League|
|Season 57||L||5 - 0||Tournament (Playoffs)|
|Season 55||L||3 - 4||Tournament (Group Phase)|
Champions Cut Down
Woon Waves Wand
Grilled Birds claimed the biggest scalp of the season thus far by trumping reigning S-League holders Be Champions FC at The Cooking Pot, and in doing so drew level with them on points. In actuality, it was one of the best times to take BCFC on, with their Turkish aces Ali Ütkün and Erkan Aydınel unavailable through injury, and the Birds made the most of the opportunity.
Grilled were not completely without concerns of their own either, with Zhu Changchun
failing a late medical, but midfield was an area that they were relatively deep in. Still, well-known as Woon Shun An
, Lee Lee Hao
and Clément Meyer
, they definitely paled in comparism to the opponents' present national trio of Arnold Pang, Foo Ah De and Feng Shifang.
Of course, in a match of such significance, paper talk could only count for so much, and it would come down to the players themselves. The heavens did not cooperate in staging a showcase, with an overnight rainstorm turning The Cooking Pot into a bog despite the groundskeepers' best efforts, and BCFC's Finnish gaffer Harri Lindroos drew up a 4-5-1 to fully utilize his available personnel.
Lindroos certainly had cause to be confident, having led BCFC to a perfect fifteen points from fifteen, and a +18 goal difference in one of the best starts in contemporary S-League history, and his well-tooled team did not let him down. They gave next to nothing away in an outwardly-quiet first twenty minutes that hid some incredible behind-the-scenes organization, which had the Birds huffing away for no payoff.
The sting in the tail soon came, when veteran winger Ang Tse Jian schooled the younger and not as wise Low Aik Jia
on how to make a productive run. Forcing Low to the outside with a half-spin while nearly crouched, Ang then kept Low stuck behind him with faultless footwork borne of experience, and lone forward Nic Zuberbühler dummied for Feng Shifang to get BCFC off the ground.
Grilled grimly held on to possession, and they got their first real sniff at the visitors' goal in the 35th minute, when Tian Yonghang
powered one of his specials, only for Sebastian Göransson to nick it around the post. Wong Ping Shun
took the corner quick and short, and although Ling Fuquan
's first cross was blocked back to him, the next one made it to Woon Shun An
, who crashed it past Edmundo Ortega with a bulky right leg.
This was the first league goal that Ortega had conceded in well over 300 minutes of league play, and the Birds eagerly sought a second. Ortega was for once called upon to bail BCFC out, and he responded with excellent stops off Chow Ying Lee
, only for Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
to arch a measured header over him from Wong Ping Shun
's cross, right before half-time.
This was just what the home supporters had been waiting for, and they serenaded the Birds players off very loudly indeed. Grilled head coach Djan Bacelar
was aware that the danger was far from over, by the way he almost tripped over getting the thermal jackets to his men, to preserve their strength for what would be a very testing second half.
And so it was, with BCFC's counterattacking talents coming to the fore. Mohd Safri would soon experience just how swiftly they could turn defence into attack, after he had the ball taken off him by Foo Ah De deep in the BCFC half. Five BCFC players immediately took off in the other direction, and it was only Arnold Pang's trying to cut it too close that prevented BCFC from getting their equaliser.
A similar chance would go begging seven minutes later, with Dutch rightback Bennie van Wijk relying on his developed football sense to stay upfield as Zuberbühler dropped back to make up the numbers. Thankfully, Gene Filippone
had noted his arrival, and rushed over just as van Wijk trapped the long ball out of defence neatly. This was enough to force him to strike immediately, and the volley sailed heart-stoppingly low over the crossbar.
Having survived those two close shaves, the Birds went back on the warpath with renewed determination. BCFC's defenders were not about to let Grilled's players in up close, but Low Aik Jia
nevertheless gave Ortega a bit of a bother with his wild effort from outside the penalty area. The lack of warning and absent bounce on the soggy grass nearly caught the Guatamelan national goalkeeper out, but Ortega recovered to palm it aside.
Ortega's day was not yet done, and he had to be at his best again to stop Tian Yonghang
from confirming the win in the 73rd minute. However, Tian's elastico out of the blue had caused centreback Dorin Bejan to turn his own ankle badly after his studs got caught, and newcomer Mohammad Rafa Khyril Muhymin would have to make a rare league appearance.
Be Champions FC were hardly willing to let their unbeaten league record end in this manner, but without any big guns in reserve to call upon, it was all up to Zuberbühler to create a miracle on his own. The Swiss did entice Ling Fuquan
to be booked with his close dribbling, but after Agasthya Vaidhyanathan blew that free-kick wide, there would be no more forthcoming from the defending champs.