Changi Eat Stroke
Ang Works It
Seventeen seasons after their last clash in II.2, Grilled took Changi Genius down 2-1 at home, to kick off their stint in Division Three on a winning note. With only one forward left in Tian Yonghang
, Moey Xin Seng
and Kalki Parvathaneni
doubled up as makeshift forwards, and did pretty well actually.
The Geniuses are one of III.15's oldies, being now in their fourteenth straight season in the league, and have maintained an incredibly consistent record of being runners-up eleven of those times. Head coach Zlatko Rendulić had maintained a consistent philosophy of building on a solid defensive core, a tenet which has seen them lift the Singapore Consolation Cup - their first national trophy - three seasons back.
This was what greeted the Birds at The Cooking Pot today, with Zacharias Hertl and Ivo Selestrin continuing to build their formidable partnership at the back. Up front, while Frenchman Mathieu Lecoq has been said to have fallen off his outstanding second season, in which he won the league Golden Boot, he remains a legitimate threat, with 65 goals from his time in Singapore.
Moey Xin Seng
was not about to let anyone - much less an opposition player - outshine him on his own stage, however. Now twenty years of age, and with whispers of unfulfilled promise already being heard, it was evident that the Grilled youngster was in no mood to wait.
Intent on establishing himself as Grilled's new core man, Moey went about his responsibilities in the hybrid role of hold-up guy and attacking central midfielder with a facility that could only have been born of hard practice. Flitting between Changi's lines like an irritating fly, he proved near-impossible to track, and put in a cross after twelve minutes that only Hertl's desperate stretching prevented from reaching Tian Yonghang
Moey took this as a sign to up his game, and continued zipping about with increased urgency. By now, it was clear who the top dog in the Grilled forward line was, and with Tian and Kalki Parvathaneni
accepting their supporting roles with grace, the Birds loomed more dangerously than they had for a long time. Something had to yield, and twenty minutes in, Moey swooped on a miscued attempt by Yuta Nakakita
, to put it in off the far post.
This would, incredibly, be Moey's maiden league goal, but if it was anything to go by, getting more shouldn't be a problem for him. Then again, Changi Genius weren't about to passively allow Moey to run away with it, and veteran midfielder Herman Xu would intentionally slow the tempo whenever he could, removing much of the Birds' edge.
They would nearly profit from their composure six minutes before the break, with Tian Yonghang
for once getting caught in possession while trying to figure out his next move. Several incisive passes set Tomáš Mamrák up to play Lecoq through, but Valentin Batâr
threw himself into the way bravely, and his body absorbed the Frenchman's shot.
A winded Batâr needed some minutes to recover, which delayed the restart, and allowed Grilled the time they needed to reevaluate the situation. Changi Genius probably benefitted more from that, though, and they entered the second half looking more assured than they had been.
Switching to a slower approach, the visitors reeled Grilled in by passing it around the halfway line, and they picked their moment in the 59th minute. Mohammad Ramli Saliman
put himself out with a ill-timed go at Wee Kim Yun, and with the space that opened up, Changi mounted a raid across the entire width of the pitch. It ended with Lecoq sneaking in behind Gene Filippone
, and poaching the equaliser with a casual tap.
Sensing that the game was now up for grabs, Changi reverted to a more offensive style, with Chua Yau How for one far more active than before. His bombing up and down indeed gave Grilled plenty of trouble, and had Clark Won
not taken it upon himself to shadow the midfielder, he could well have turned it around.
The Birds needed a distraction, and Tian Yonghang
supplied it in the 72nd minute, selling a fall to referee Anders Jeppsson all too convincingly. The home fans weren't about to object, and from the ensuing indirect free-kick, both he and Filippone stepped over the ball, leaving Moey to drill it wide for Ang Leong Kum
. The Changi defenders scrambled, but could not reach Ang before he had released a pinpoint lob beyond Agustí Autet's reach.
Now again with a lead to defend, Djan Bacelar
switched Tian out for Leong Wan Kang
's raw energy, which had the intended impact. Grilled would ride the win out without further incident, with Edy Goldschmidt sending a last-ditch try well wide in time added on.