Played Off The Park
Dillen Saunters Forth
Grilled's first post-season friendly saw them devastated by visitors Vondelpark Palace, hailing from Amsterdam. Currently working to move up from the Dutch fourth division, they seem in a good position to do so, all the more if homegrown star Falko Dillen - fresh off the league Golden Boot - can keep his prodigious output up.
Like Grilled, Vondelpark had blown their final-day shot at the title with a draw, and indeed the two sides were well-matched on paper, with a few exceptions. First off, the Birds had chosen to give two youngsters - Christopher Mauget
and Dante Tran
- an opportunity to work with the regulars, and second, their defence was not quite of the calibre to shut the likes of Dillen and Jobias Descheiver down. Still, given their potential up top, they should retain a fighting chance... or so the pundits reasoned.
This line of thought wasn't too far off at the beginning, as the teams exchanged blows with the freedom arising from a consequence-free game. Twelve minutes in, Ayberk Fatin nearly caught Valentin Batâr
napping with a dinky chip that the goalie just about kept out, only for Ignaz Knetemann to hash up an absolute sitter. Seconds later, Moey Xin Seng
received an inspired pass from Chu Xin Lee
at the other end, but likewise put his effort miserably wide.
It would fall to Falko Dillen to make Yuta Nakakita
look like a greenhorn with his expert ball-juggling in the 21st minute, which concluded with a neat take-down and goal. Grilled were hurrying their play at this stage, and their hopeful long balls posed few problems for Vondelpark, a few Moey nod-on's excepted. Dillen would then double their lead in the 32nd minute, cutting in past Rashid bin Ahmad
, and then Gene Filippone
, before scuffing it around Batar's weak side.
The Birds were actually not doing that badly, but fortune was not on their side, with Kalki Parvathaneni
finding the post in the 40th minute, before Cyril Künzler
capped a lung-bursting run by shooting right at Lleyton van Horne. Worse, that led to a successful breakaway down the middle by Jobias Descheiver, and Dillen would add to the pain by completing his hat-trick with a textbook chip, after Batar went to ground a fraction early.
Being four down despite edging possession must have been very tough on the Grilled representatives, but they kept their heads up, and began the second half with some disciplined advances. The switch of Yuki Irie
in for Rashid bin Ahmad
probably helped there, as Yuki proved himself rather more adept at pushing the play up from the back.
They would get their rewards at last, in the 56th minute. Jozef Baak had been a rock for Vondelpark, and none of the Grilled players were even approaching him in a physical sense... so imagine the confusion when the underperforming Dante Tran
suddenly twisted him like a pretzel. His teammates had barely reacted when Tran worked the ball back into the middle, where a long-striding Kalki Parvathaneni
scrambled it in behind van Horne's back.
Thus began Grilled's best patch of the contest, as they started to look more and more like the team heavily in the lead. The midfield finally clicked and pressed their man advantage, with it opening up for Christopher Mauget
to slide a wonderful through ball for Parvathaneni to chase, in the 66th. There might have been some real fireworks had he managed to control his cutback properly, but sadly it was struck just a little too hard for Cyril Künzler
With that, the flow went back to Vondelpark, who showed the Birds the right way to do it ten minutes later. Rising young midfielder Abdelwajid Riyani managed to get his sights on despite Neeraj Muthyala
's close attentions, and the alert Dré Hoekema cut in from the right to make it five, thanks in large part to Dillen tying Filippone up for him.
Dillen would then put the cherry on top with his classy volley with five minutes to go, but it was not as if that mattered in any real sense by then.