Grilled worked their way to a deserved 1-3 result away from home, as the new-look attack demonstrated its potency. The greatest impact was however made by Abed-Sulaiman, who cleared his lines with no end of flair and basically whipped his experienced defence into line.
Titus' wage bill was a couple hundred thousand higher than any other S-Leaguer, the bulk going to their two national team midfielders, Tang Chien-Hui and Jiu Thuy, who together draw over a million dollars a week. They couldn't be faulted their salaries, as they hammered Grilled back in the opening minutes, with only Abed-Sulaiman stopping Bing Kong-Phay from putting Titus into a quick lead.
Jakob Taipale and Shu Chit-Fu had already scored in the Herron-HaTT encounter, so Martinsson became only the third scorer of the new season. The wet pitch didn't make for good running, but Martinsson was always more about guile, as he dragged the ball around him while going the other way to totally flummox Tang Chien-Hui. Not one to overelaborate when unneeded, he then streaked past Wee-Cheong to net a thumping cannonball.
It was a rude slap in the face for Titus, who had thoroughly dominated until that moment of magic. Martinsson followed up with the first S-League double, as he fed off Wai-Kin to pass the ball past Wang Yukpui in the 29th minute. A superb start for the Swedish assassin, but the travelling faithful made sure than Wai-Kin felt appreciated with a litany of cheers.
Titus pulled one back soon after, as local forward Tang Hong-Yang drifted to the far post to head a classy diagonal floater past Abed-Sulaiman into the opposite top corner. Bona received an earful from the enraged goalie as he let Mohd Sofi's cross float over him due to a mistimed jump. Chastened, Bona resumed his defensive duties with extreme concentration.
Grilled had a precarious looking lead as Titus looked the better team, so the biggest moment of the game probably came when an impatient Dani Spirig
brusquely nicked Chien-Hui's trailing foot after being a second late to an interception. Chien-Hui fell heavily, and after some inspection had to be taken off, to be replaced by youngster She Chang-Shik. Spirig couldn't escape a booking for that, but he may take comfort in that it was a very good trade in hindsight.
Chang-Shik, though a formidable midfielder for his age, was some distance off the wavelength of his more accomplished seniors, and the Titus midfield machine developed a pronounced lisp as Rottman found it far easier to harass Chang-Shik off the ball. Still, their Tang legion almost extracted vengeance for Chien-Hui's injury, as Mei-Kuen crashed a powerful header from outside the six-yard box a metre wide.
The game devolved into a physical battle in the center, as Grilled recognized that they could snatch up full points with twenty minutes of hard defending. Kek-Tjiang and Falkbo delivered the most crunching tackles, and Siu-Yue joined in only to discover that he had not the skill of those two in going for the ball. He splattered Ee-Van, and the referee was being lenient in doling out a yellow card.
She Chang-Shik's pace saw him hurdle Falkbo in the 80th minute, and it would have been a dream run for the youngster had not Abed-Sulaiman been in top form. Squaring up to the onrushing man, the Egyptian goalie tightened the angles masterfully and in the end stuck out a foot to deflect the point blank strike onto the post, where it was hacked away by Tuan-Mu.
That turned out to be Titus' last serious chance not to begin their season empty-handed, as Grilled whittled the seconds away with circular passing movements. They did put together a credible attacking rampage up the left six minutes from time, which brought a rather messy finish from Siu-Yue to seal the game.