Moey & Yuta
Grilled did what they had to at The Sanctuary against Black Banana FC, but their eighth successive league win remained insufficient for them to catch up on Changi Genius. That aside, it was a pleasant demonstration of attacking intent from a Birds side missing Cyril Künzler
and Valentin Batâr
to injury, while the home supporters would at least have a couple of goals to remember in Division Four next season.
The Banana faithful were definitely sticking to their team, from how it sounded when their players were coming out from the tunnel, with the loudest cheers reserved for new S$3 million midfielder Pavle Zdravković; as for the visitors, there would be a late amendment of sorts, with the teamsheets originally showing Künzler having made an early recovery. Instead, it would be Chan Ze Han
getting some time out on the right, with Kalki Parvathaneni
selected for the frontline.
Kalki was out to prove himself from his tempo, while being utterly unselfish - maybe too much so - in cutting it back to Islom Davlatov
in the second minute. Christian Eriksson flopped about allowing Davlatov to pass him without too much trouble, but the Uzbek forward then wound up burying it into an unlucky cameraman.
Davlatov's play was otherwise quite impeccable, and he turned provider in the ninth minute instead, releasing Florus Romijn
after a series of sharp taps to score. Moey Xin Seng
added a second after timing the Bananas' offside trap, but he would then be booked for rough play in the 27th for the third time this campaign - which sees him out of the final match against Changi.
Moey would find that it probably wouldn't mean too much, given that Changi Genius were 3-1 up at half-time. Grilled had continued doing their part, with Moey absolutely piledriving in a header from Jérémy Tarin
's corner in the 32nd. Chu Xin Lee
could have further embellished the scoreline, but Krzysztof Czachorowski got down quickly to meet his dipping effort.
The news over from Changi likely got the Birds to take their feet off the pedal, as the hosts expressed themselves forcefully after the restart. Zdravković's mobility began posing some very interesting questions of the Grilled midfield, which began to get stretched from the Croatian's runs and general distribution.
Tarin would remind Grilled fans of why he hasn't been considered for a permanent spot, despite his stellar free-kicks, by backing off Khairul Hakim Mohd Zafir and giving him an easy take in the 54th minute. The dust had barely settled, when Apoena Conde rushed down the left once more after a failed Birds push, this time drilling it in himself to make it 2-3.
What had seemed a comfortable morning was once again on tenterhooks, but Yuta Nakakita
would step up in a very reassuring manner. The 27 year-old has added an edge of maturity to his game since arriving, which has been reflected in an uncanny knack to pick his moments; this was one of those times, as he called for Chan Ze Han
to float it over to him, before beating Czachorowski with a stinging volley.
Yuta was far from done, and he continued splashing cold water on the hosts' comeback hopes, with a fine chip from an uncharacteristic surge several minutes later. Like Moey, however, he would find himself disqualified from the season closer, after what seemed like an accidental head to Li Aik Beng's chin. The blood probably made it look worse than it was, and Yuta found himself ejected for the first time in his Grilled career.
The Birds' attacking momentum would carry them on for a while more, with fellow fifty-start man Neeraj Muthyala
finding the crossbar, almost immediately after Romijn reprised his assistant role to Islom Davlatov
for 2-6. Trainee striker Jérôme Imoberdorf, eager to press Grilled's undermanned backline, would only get booked for his pains after bowling Chu over.
Changi Genius would have cemented their advantage through an additional Mathieu Lecoq strike as the game entered its final minutes, and Grilled would ultimately fall short, despite their best efforts.