Red Is The Colour
In a repeat from twenty-two seasons back, Red Chaos bundled the Birds out of the Singapore Cup in a frentic, take-no-prisoners flurry. Grilled went from being comfortably ahead at half-time, to being behind after 78 minutes, and frankly only had themselves to blame.
While they have yet to hit the big time, Red Chaos remain one of Singapore's premier Pasir Ris clubs, a fact that their followers in the near-filled stadium were only too eager to remind the visitors. Bulcsú Latabár and Luis Alcántara exchanged a very terse handshake, an attitude that would soon be mirrored onfield.
Having being denied promotion at their latest attempt by Sembawang Hamsters, Red Chaos continued to hint that they were far too good for Division Four, as they ripped all opposition apart in the early going. Part-timers Xiao Fei Sia were hardly a warm-up as they shipped five to Romanian veteran Petre Chiţoiu, who despite that would only make the bench today.
The reason for that was Italian striker Flavio Lara, who despite his nationality, is far more in the traditional big English centre-forward mould. Gene Filippone
bounced off him in their sixth-minute clash, and Wong Tian Han
looked like he caught Lara in his haste to help. The stadium erupted in anticipation of a penalty, but the referee saw nothing wrong with that.
Sylvester Mosteller redeemed himself somewhat in the eyes of the spectators, when he showed no favouritism to countryman Filippone for simulating a fall soon afterwards. It was a subtle one, but still did not escape Mosteller's eyes.
The game had been turning Grilled's way after the home side's energy-packed start, however, and Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
found his fifth goal of the season in due time. Yeo Cheng Shun took his eyes off the Grilled talisman for an instant, and would live to regret it as Mohd Safri took it off him in a flash, and scored.
Going down triggered Latabár's switch of youngster Gregory Okada for Leonard Chee on the left, but it was not immediately clear to what end. While Chee was by far the more experienced, the 17 year-old Okada ran about like a man possessed on only his second appearance, and likely gave Wong Ping Shun
more of a bother than Chee had.
This would be after Ling Fuquan
had hit paydirt by letting rip from an unlikely distance, though, and even the famously passionate Chaos fans faltered a little there. They would recover their voice five minutes later, when local hero Chang Xin Loon ran past Ling Fuquan
to reduce to 1-2.
It didn't last, as German skipper Timothy Daglfing got himself booked after struggling to come to terms with Tian Yonghang
, at the opposite end of the pitch he was supposed to be. This got him into loud disagreement with his manager, and a disorganized Chaos defence couldn't deal with Rinor Isufi
's speedy raid in the ensuing uncertainty.
There seemed little hope for a Red Chaos comeback at this stage, but the break came just in time for them. They came out of the tunnel a totally transformed team, and Daglfing needed just three minutes to lead by example, sliding in on Ziyad El Gamasy's visionary pick-out to finish past Wong Tian Han
It there were any doubts if that was just a flash in the pan, they were soon dispelled as Red Chaos hogged possession with swagger. Tan Chun Jun, who had allowed Grilled's third after being left behind by Isufi, was next in line to make up for it. With 54 minutes gone, Tan called for Ling Sze Ah to cross it to him, then met it with a thumping header to the far post when it arrived.
The Birds barely knew what had hit them, and they had gone from being in cruise control, to trying to stay relevant. Daglfing continued turning it on, and nearly produced one for the highlight reel with his sensational dribble past three on the hour. Unfortunately, he put it narrowly over.
Red Chaos were definitely the more eager of the two to win it, but Ling Sze Ah overdid it with his potentially crippling two-footed takedown of Zhao Jing Wei
. That could have changed everything had Mosteller gone by the book, but he opted for merely a yellow instead.
Grilled belatedly tried to stem the tide, but the contest had passed them by; El Gamasy could have gotten through several times had it not been for Hariharan Prabhu
playing emergency sweeper. There were brief flashes from some Grilled players, such as when Low Aik Jia
strained himself trying to make things happen, but they faded in comparison to the hosts' efforts.
The inevitable finally happened as Low's dead leg was being desperately massaged at pitchside, as El Gamasy again held off all comers while biding his time. The moment arrived when Flavio Lara peeled off Ling Fuquan
after a feint outside, and the Italian made no mistake with his deceptively delicate first-time strike.