conceded Grilled's title challenge after their humiliating 1-6 home derby loss to newbies are newbies - and the kicker was, the visitors didn't even do anything particularly special. A cookie-cutter soak-and-strike, which was not even geared towards newbies' strengths, was enough to decimate a clueless Birds team.
The hosts had good reason to be confident going in, having prevailed 3-1 in the reverse fixture, barely a month ago. Not only that, they were back at near full strength, with Neeraj Muthyala
finally passed fit, and Mohammad Ramli Saliman
back from suspension. If their loss to ArSenal U21 had been put down to a second-string midfield, this excuse was definitely no longer available.
Despite that, not two minutes had passed before Grilled were looking for them. Cyril Künzler
's effectiveness had dipped precariously since his red-hot introduction, and he was definitely trying too hard to get back into his groove, given how he attempted to flamboyantly spin his way out of a low-percentage situation. It was rather inappropriate, given that he was just outside his own penalty area, and Gan Seng An's hasty chip inside was good enough for Chia Loong Ping to knock home.
half-heartedly tried to appeal for offside, but it was evident that he had simply been caught napping too. It was all they could do to try and find a reply as quickly as possible, but newbies' numbers at the back told. Without a natural striker, Grilled found themselves working pointlessly in the final third all too often, and they were hit by a bitter blow in the 19th minute, when Li Rong Lee managed to win an aerial battle, leaning against Hoàng Trung Quá
. Leow Jing Ting was onto the knockdown in a flash, and drove a competent effort just past Valentin Batâr
It was all going quite horribly for the Birds, and even their more successful romps came close to backfiring. For example, an electrifying solo run by Florus Romijn
along the left touchline saw Gene Filippone
meet the ensuing pass with a wicked strike, which sadly found the upright; newbies swept back down the field as a unit, and Li had Batâr at his mercy at the end of the move. However, he delayed for just long enough to allow the goalie to set himself properly, and it wound up saved.
This would go in the other direction a few minutes later, with Daniel Quong learning the pain of hitting the post after having done all the hard work, and Filippone being maybe a tad too eager, to make up for his previous lapses personally. Once again, it was Romijn who provided, and once again Filippone missed ever so slightly to the wrong side of goal. It was agony for the home fans on the facing side, who justifiably thought that it had gone in, from their angle.
The Birds had to have been given a right talking-to during the interval, but previous little changed; coming out with an admirable if ultimately flawed mindset, they pressed too strongly in the initial exchanges, and wound up leaving their entire left defence exposed. Yuta Nakakita
was the only one left to try and delay the inevitable, but a simple pass across by Li took him out of the running, and left Curtis Dave with only Batâr to beat - which he did.
A three-nil lead was enough to persuade newbies head coach Roshadi bin Che Rusli to pull out the stops to protect it, and in came old warhorses Zhang Ruotian and Yue Haoping, for Peter Haley and Leow Jing Ting. This might have been something of a miscalculation on his part, though, as Grilled began exerting some meaningful control in the opposition half. After a few false starts, Künzler faked Ang Han Ah out with a feint, and his first good cross of the day was turned in by the hustling Kalki Parvathaneni
Curtis Dave then found himself ruled out of newbies' next game against Really McCoys, after tripping Chu Xin Lee
; however, the revival would turn out to be something of a false dawn, after Florus Romijn
spurned two of Grilled's best chances of the day. His 78th minute effort was especially egregious, as he only had to place it into an unguarded net, after being slipped through by Moey Xin Seng
. How he managed to doff it straight into Seetoh Aik Beng's gloves, only he himself will know.
It was all over after that, as former youth international Seetoh spotted Yue screaming for it down the right, and was good enough with his kicking, to find the veteran. The ball would find its way to Daniel Quong almost in the blink of an eye, and Quong would make no mistake this time, bending his strike neatly across Batâr, and in at the opposite corner.
Li Rong Lee then made it five for newbies the very next minute, as Grilled imploded spectacularly - cutting by three disinterested defenders, he then chipped Batâr, to raucous approval from the away stands. Chia Loong Ping then hammered the final nail in the coffin from a breakaway, leaving the swiftly-emptying The Cooking Pot very gloomy indeed.