Nakakita Carries On
Troubled Division Four side Woodlands Wingdings won some admirers with their brave resistance against Grilled Birds, but it of course didn't prevent them from being wiped out in this first-round Singapore Cup fixture. Local veteran Liao Li Woon would have his day regardless, as he collected a consolation goal in the second half, to a frenzied reception from the home fanatics.
had commented on how standards had been rising across the board in his pre-game interview, and Wingdings did little to disabuse that notion. Despite the much-publicized pulling of support from the club, who had only recently been rebranded yet again after a short-lived stint as Island Comandos, the former West City United kept true to the basics, fielding a 4-4-2.
It was always going to be hard against what was essentially Grilled's first XI, and there was a clear limit to what pluck alone could do for the hosts. Lin Tong Kum for one had done remarkably well to stifle Grilled's incursions with his aerial coverage, but there was nothing to be done when Moey Xin Seng
juggled it past him in the 23rd minute, before lifting it invitingly. Yuta Nakakita
was right on to it, nodding it down and beyond Abdul Karim Zaid.
Two minutes later, Cyril Künzler
made it 2-0, after Florus Romijn
had won the relevant penalty. Mohd Sahar Abdul Rahim, totally skinned by the Belgian's cut to the inside, purposely left a leg out, and Romijn was only too happy to fling himself over it, with referee Quentin Aichen watching. Künzler stabbed it in at the right post, with Abdul Karim Zaid diving the wrong way.
The next couple of goals arrived in quick succession, with Wingdings' right defence collapsing entirely. Yuta got the third and his second, sliding in to sweep a loose ball home after some post-corner chaos, while Chu Xin Lee
converted the fourth following some good triangle play, as Mohammad Ramli Saliman
slipped him through very nicely.
Playmaker Gary Duong would be carded for trying to keep Kalki Parvathaneni
under wraps with a shirt tug in an off-the-ball incident on that last, but all in all, the home team took the happenings in their stride. Captain Leong Jing Han had a good chat with his assigned man Cyril Künzler
as the teams went off for the break, and by their laughing and joking, it was hard to imagine them being at each others' throats just a minute ago.
Grilled came back out with rather diminished fervour, and it was apparent that many of the players had one eye on the big season opener against Changi Genius. Avoiding unnecessary injury was now a priority, as more than a few Birds players were observed not to fully commit themselves in challenges, and Chew Yeow Nie might have had a real peek at goal, had he been more forward.
Moey Xin Seng
would nevertheless grab the next one, despite the cooling-off, as Wingdings overextended themselves. A long ball flighted out from deep within Grilled's own half was not handled properly by the young Zhong Cheng Tong, who will surely remember how Moey threw him off for a vital second, with a barely-perceptible nudge while turning. That little trick was enough for Moey to trap it on the second bounce unopposed, before directing it past a hesitating goalie.
Wingdings would then have their reward, as they threw just about every spare man into an attacking position, after Yuki Irie
gave away a free-kick some distance from the penalty area. They took their merry time settling in, so much so that the referee appeared on the verge of warning them for time-wasting, just as Mohd Sahar Abdul Rahim swung it smack into the middle of the box.
A counterattack looked on the cards, as Hoàng Trung Quá
chested it down with authority, but Chew popped up from behind him with and slickly nicked the ball, as Hoàng glanced about for an outlet. A quick second touch found veteran striker Liao Li Woon ignored at the back post, with the Grilled players having moved aside in anticipation, and Liao put it in to erupting cheers from the near-capacity crowd.
This was definitely what Wingdings had been seeking, and they reverted to full defensive mode, having achieved it. While they were not willing to strive too hard, Grilled were still quite willing to run up the score if it wasn't too much work, and Moey tried a stylish diving header in the 80th. Abdul Karim Zaid moved by instinct to deflect this one, however.
Abdul Karim Zaid did himself proud again the very next minute, throwing a leg out to stop Yuki Irie
's wickedly-spinning strike from crossing the line, and Zhong Cheng Tong throwing himself onto the ball was just enough to prevent Parvathaneni from following up. The ensuing interesting free-kick right in front of goal went nowhere, and Tian Yonghang
making an appearance for a record 23rd straight season was the remaining highlight of the match.