Good Ol' Exchange
Grilled ran up a large scoreline against newbies are newbies in their historic derby to start October, with Florus Romijn
perhaps the most dynamic man on their side as the left winger's passionate playing through pain got him two assists, and a late goal. 19 year-old newbies skipper Kwok Wan Yau was looked upon kindly by the Birds set for his maturity in extremely challenging conditions, though maybe except in the minutes immediately after his strike.
Having built a very positive record over newbies in the past seasons, winning six of the last seven meetings and the latest home fixture 7-2, there was no doubt that the pundits expected a similar outcome, given that little had changed with the available personnel. Moey Xin Seng
, leading the team out, would start together with Chan Ze Han
for the first time in a long while, certainly a crowd-pleasing combination. At the back, Dan Seng
was allowed between the posts, with Valentin Batâr
apparently rested for the cup.
That might have seemed a slightly risky move, as Li Rong Lee gave Seng some jitters whenever he approached early on. Grilled's soon emerged with an advantage from their midfield as before, fortunately, and Florus Romijn
would specialize in giving Benoît Bernard twisted blood with his agility. Definitely, Bernard wasn't going to be able to track his off-the-ball run in the 14th, but Romijn's rushed volley careened disappointingly wide.
newbies head coach Sim Kian Eng had never made a secret of his aim to assemble a formidable air defence, while minimizing their remaining flaws, but their yielding of width to the Birds simply put their backline under too much stress. Still, it was dealt with for the first half-hour, until Cyril Künzler
finally got a yard on current youth international Guan Wen Jin, and curved in a superb cross that Iman Eshrafi
just couldn't miss from.
The first goal turned out to be the hardest, and Romijn did much the same from the other flank a few minutes later, though Moey Xin Seng
arguably put in his bit by outclimbing the imposing Martin Tung. It was then 3-0, as Grilled brought the visitors under heavy siege, during which Yuki Irie
saw his opening, crashing one past an unsighted and unamused Seetoh Aik Beng.
This was going all according to plan for the home side, and Grilled arguably left their foot off the pedal after returning. Sim read this change as well, and while his introduction of Yue Haoping and Zhang Ruotian was hardly unexpected, it remained exactly the spark that the downspirited newbies were waiting for.
The duo didn't even need a full minute to engender an uptick in newbies' fortunes, as Zhang hassled the ball off an overconfident Neeraj Muthyala
, almost immediately upon coming on. The ensuing free-kick let newbies organize in the Grilled box, and Yue's diagonal ball coming in from the left was seized upon by a determined Kwok Wan Yau, who could not disguise his sheer joy at scoring.
Zhang retained enough presence of mind to retrieve the ball while the rest of his teammates were chasing after Kwok, and newbies would shortly after be back in the running for real. Guan was proving to be much more effective on the overlap than most remembered, and his low pass inside in the 64th was a thing of beauty. Li Rong Lee did right by it, sliding onto the ball before Dan Seng
could adjust properly.
The momentum had firmly been captured by newbies now, and it was no exaggeration to say that they gave off the vibe of being able to win it all. Finally recognizing the danger for what it was, the Birds began breaking up play in earnest, with Neeraj Muthyala
booked for his late takedown of Chia Loong Ping. It wasn't totally one-sided at least, as Guan Wen Jin would likewise be booked, as he found Romijn too much to deal with in the 71st.
The stoppage in play as Romijn received treatment was of great help to a shaken Grilled team, who further profited once the match got underway again. Künzler uncharacteristically played the free-kick square to Mohammad Ramli Saliman
in a conservative manner, but the end-result was as desired, with Chan Ze Han
being the one to carry it in and re-extend Grilled's lead.
A fifth would come in a blink, as newbies were caught in two minds about their situation. They likely had a few too many men up when the Birds swept down the right, and although Künzler's whipped cross was cut out before reaching its intended target, Romijn was there to bang it home, courtesy of a hefty deflection off a dismayed Wong Long Kok, who did look slightly tired due to rushing back from Wales.
newbies responded with their third and last substitute, as Peter Haley entered for Daniel Quong, but it didn't have the magic of the previous two. Grilled would counter that by switching Hoàng Trung Quá
in for Yuki, which was enough to ensure a quiet and uneventful conclusion.