Team Singapore hosted Grilled Birds with both eyes on not conceding. Grilled Birds travelled to The Dome Of The White Lion seeking a point at least. A defensive 4-4-2 met a toothless 4-5-1, with the predictable end result that everyone on the pitch got what they wanted, and got everyone in the stands thinking of a refund.
Team Singapore had disappointingly been bundled out of the Cup on Wednesday, which was in part due to their own injury concerns. A very strong local midfield was reduced by Nie Yong-chul's long-term injury, and Sun Tat-Chung had to serve his one match suspension against Grilled after three yellow cards. Under these circumstances, it was perhaps understandable why they went for the draw at home, with only two top-class inner midfielders available.
Grilled had a similar story to tell, as Martinsson's recent return from his foot problems coincided with Wai-Kin's unavailability. Hjortlind and Hobson weren't exactly good enough to contribute much against an S-League defence, and thus Grilled played the lone striker with a solid four-man defence.
The first ten minutes more or less set the stage for the rest of the game. Team Singapore spent the first couple passing the ball about in defence, and Grilled were no better as Rottman hit the ball all the way back to Sulaiman after tackling Kwee-Lee. Grilled had the ball quite a bit more, but pursued only two routes - laying it out to van Liere and hoping for some outlandish magic, or parallel passes and finally winging it to Martinsson, who was typically surrounded by three defenders.
The only decent spell of what could be called soccer came midway through the half, as Grilled's midfield broke through together and threatened the Team Singapore defence with even numbers. Martinsson cleverly distracted two men with his off-the-ball luring, but the move was drawn out too long and Kek-Tjiang drove a long shot past the bar while being closed down.
Recognizing that to try and pass into the final third was to give the ball away, the competing sides engaged in near farcical training ground passing routines. Zulharisan bin Jantan quickened a few heartbeats when he leapt and glanced a beautiful downwards header off a Loh Quang-Nhut cross, but it bounced once on the turf and went wide.
By the time the final whistle went, the stadium had gone from two-thirds full at the start of the match to barely twenty-thousand spectators, whom had every right to be aggrieved at a night of non-entertainment. The remaining fans were kind enough to half-heartedly clap both sides into the tunnel, but one cannot help but feel that the applause was strained.