An enthralling contest at Suriname-based Hattrick International side FC Pimento ended with a last-gasp win for the Birds, who had to endure a spate of physical provocation from the hosts. FC Pimento were definitely not shy in exhibiting the willingness to get stuck in that had so aided them in their thus-far perfect conquest of VI.290, and it took some cool heads for Grilled to weather that out.
Having made it to the last sixteen of the H.I. Consolation Cup, Pimento head coach Ayaan Raising insisted that they carry their combativeness over to their friendly matches, and it definitely showed. Lining up in a 4-5-1, their mission was apparently not to let the Birds express themselves at all, with skipper Iwan Blijd bossing it in midfield.
Grilled were not to be so easily intimidated, though. Chu Xin Lee
, who is beginning to show the makings of a fine mover-and-shaker, responded with his typically erratic drives. While most of those were short-lived, he got lucky in the fifteenth minute, when the ball took an awkward bounce off a defender's boot. Chu swooped as Chan Ze Han
was conveniently slow to move out of the way, and he would smash it in from close range.
The FC Pimento players had a lot to say about that, but referee Alejandro Beltrán saw nothing wrong. This might have been a factor in them deciding to take matters into their own hands, and Grilled were soon served a number of rough-and-ready tackles. One of them, from fullback Borger Vriendwijk on a sprinting Cyril Künzler
, simply couldn't be overlooked, and Vriendwijk duly received the match's first yellow card in the 23rd.
All this aggressiveness did serve its purpose, and FC Pimento would battle their way back into contention, bruise by bruise. Beltrán was having trouble keeping control, and it would have taken a very brave man to disallow a goal, after Iwan Blijd appeared to have elbowed Yuki Irie
in the face on the turn, before bearing down on Valentin Batâr
; thankfully, he missed, saving the referee the decision.
The home fans would get their due five minutes after that, after their pressure won them a string of corner kicks. One of them had to go in sooner or later, and it was German-born Wolf Wigge, who did the honours. This if anything only encouraged FC Pimento, but Haroon Saran went about it the wrong way with a rather pathetic dive, for which he was justly booked.
The pace was taking its toll on veteran Rashid bin Ahmad
, whose effectiveness had been steadily dwindling after a strong start, aided by several knockdowns by the brawny Blijd. Gene Filippone
would replace him for the second half, and looked none too pleased at the matchup either.
Indeed, the striker was having a field day against his markers, and what he arguably lacked in technique, he more than made up with his size and strength. He would have been near-unplayable had he had better composure, but as it was, he blew a great chance to put his team in the lead, when he had the goal at his mercy in the 63rd minute. It still cost Yuta Nakakita
some pain to clear it, as he caught John Kross' follow-up right in his stomach.
The bulk of the Birds held up well, and Prokop Mottl
even seemed unhappy to have to go off, when Dante Tran
stepped up with fifteen minutes remaining. Next off was Hilal Bakhtiar
, and his substitute Leong Wan Kang
set off with fire in his belly, looking to burn it up down the left flank.
For all that, the home team entered the final curve by far the more active, and it was only blind fate that saw Haroon Saran put it just wide in the 84th minute, after some splendid approach work from Wigge. Saran's whining didn't endear him to the referee, though, and after one complaint too many, he found himself unceremoniously ejected after a second yellow card.
FC Pimento had barely known what to make of it, when the previously-suppressed Grilled struck back out of the blue. There was some confusion whether Blijd would fall back - he did eventually - and it was enough for Neeraj Muthyala
to take advantage of. Sensing indecision in the opposition backline, he made as if to cut inside Dion Breinburg, but instead unleashed an accurate grounder just out of Destiny Sedoc's grasp.
There was an outroar from the hosts, and it was not immediately clear whether they were protesting Saran's sending-off, or Muthyala's goal. The chaos would end with Lukas Hirsch also booked, but an ugly end to the game was averted, when the FC Pimento coaching staff made their entrance to calm some egos. They might even have evened it up at the death, but Wigge placed his header a whisker too high.