Not even sixty thousand made it to The Cooking Pot to watch Grilled take on the league leaders, sated after the Cup triumph. For those who did, they were repaid with vintage attacking by the home side, becoming the fourth team in a row to bring down mighty Winning Eleven.
As expected, German fullback Reinold Mönkhof was still sidelined, and Markus Hultander remained in the stands. Left with few choices, they had dipped into the transfer market for Poland-based Singaporean Lin Jin-Ping, at 23 years of age a reversal of their policy of buying experience.
Jin-Ping it was who drilled in an expert shot after just five minutes, snapping Abed-Sulaiman's 180 minutes of not conceding in league soccer. Kek-Tjiang was slow to cover for Bona after the central defender had advanced to distribute the ball, and this allowed Tobias Pettersson to break down the left to great effect.
It didn't stand for too long, with Martinsson on the prowl. van Liere's standout play bewitched opponents, but finals hero Martinsson is simply unmatched when it comes to goals. That time, van Liere cut in and slung the ball wide for Martinsson to chase. Chase he did, and with a flash of his boots took it past goalkeeper Jorge Guardiola to stroke into the net.
Guardiola appeared affected after a strong aerial challenge from Kek-Tjiang took him in the chest and got the midfielder booked. He looked a little slow coming out to deter van Liere roaring in along the touchline, and let the ball go past him at the near post. Credit to the magical winger for the precision of his grounder, though.
Worse, under-fire Wai-Kin was gifted his first league goal after starting a shocking eight matches. He was forgiven somewhat as his Cup scoring was crucial in leading Grilled to the trophy, but never totally as the fans were used to a striker who actually does his main job. Guardiola didn't hold an average strike from Rottman, and Wai-Kin swept the loose ball into the corner.
Winning Eleven were not eager to see their potential double-winning season disintegrate before their eyes, but didn't have the personnel to dominate as they had before. Nikos Avramidis put in some clever turns, but the service from midfield was unfortunately mundane.
His partner, ex-Anfield Reds striker Zang Kai-Chung made the most of a poor pass by Bona to give Winning something to fight for. Few strikers would have chased a simple pass across the defence, but Kai-Chung did, and this time it was short. Call it striker's instinct or anything else, but it paid off and Zang clobbered it straight past Abed-Sulaiman.
The reduction lasted barely a minute, as Grilled fought back right from the restart instead of withdrawing into a shell. Siu-Yue bypassed much of Winning's defence with a superb through pass to Wai-Kin, and Grilled had the ball passed about around the perimeter of the penalty area before Quah Han Kok
applied the finishing kick. It stayed 4-2, and amplified the backdrop of the chasing pack steadily making up lost ground.