Out Of A Bind
Impossibility Camp saw the Birds earn an important three points against a lively Ropelearner FC side, who were again undone by a leaky defence, despite marginally edging Grilled in possession statistics. Marijan Grgeč exemplified their run-and-gun style, a potent mixture of shots and crosses from deep, but they in turn had nothing to prevent Grilled's own attack from scouring the goal of the unfortunate Vânio Figueiredo Rodrigues clean.
It would probably not be entirely amiss for Grilled fans to recognize shades of their own team in Ropelearner FC's composition, chief among it all an unvarnished dedication towards offense, oft to the detriment of positional integrity. Former Croatian youth international and now Ropelearner gaffer Milan Bakić would attempt to combat it with a strategy of shot volume from distance, backed up by the inclusion of many competent aerial threats.
Though the outcome had been kind of mixed, it being unconvincing in losses to RFC and McCoys, it could be nigh-unguardable against when it did come off. This was as happened in just the fifth minute, when Belgian playmaker Jean-Félix D'hoedt, despite being industriously corralled by Neeraj Muthyala
over thirty yards from goal, sniped Ropelearner FC into the lead with his unerring left foot.
This had the home support on their feet, but Grilled stuck to their guns, and were level four minutes later as Kalki Parvathaneni
kept his balance to ride Fabian Marburg's lunging tackle and score. Ropelearner for their part managed to get in closer as the match wore on, but Gianluca Dioguardi and Koray Güner would then go to ground inside the penalty area no no reward, with the latter even getting booked for simulation.
would get in the hang of spotting threats from afar, and Mohammad Ramli Saliman
would abruptly come into a vein of wizardry, about the half-hour mark. An around-the-world into a return ball saw him assist Yuta Nakakita
for his seventh goal of a great personal season, before Saliman forced an error that Chan Ze Han
gulped up for 3-1. Chan would later be the target of a tackle aimed at intimidation from enforcer Piotr Widzyk, which while did result in a card for Widzyk, also left Chan noticeably slowed for the remainder of the game.
Three-one was nevertheless something that Grilled could not be unhappy about, especially after Ropelearner bursting out of the gates, and Djan Bacelar
determined that piling on the pressure was the thing to do. To this end, he swopped Chu Xin Lee
on for the meticulous Yuki Irie
, who had played a big part in limiting Ropelearner to mostly-awkward efforts in the first half.
The logic seemed impeccable, as the Birds began to make further inroads with their injected energy. A fresh Chu was not at all shy about trying new stuff, and although many of his ideas didn't come off, his finding of Saliman despite both involved cutting their runs sharply paid off handsomely. No stranger to being in tight spots, Mohammad Ramli Saliman
found a yard of space with fine chest control, before chipping the dismayed Rodrigues.
Ropelearner's fans were beginning to have a familiar sinking feeling, but to be fair to their players, their being three down was hardly for want of trying. It was this never-say-die spirit that allowed ex-Hungarian U-20 forward Dániel Bejczi to outrun Florus Romijn
in the 68th minute, despite definitely not being known for his speed, and deliver for countryman Gábor Gém to polish off from point-blank range.
If the crowd were expecting Ropelearner to build on that, though, they would be sadly mistaken. While they had admirably turned it up on the attack, their vulnerabilities at the back very much remained, and Cyril Künzler
didn't even bother to appeal after he was blatantly upended by Koray Güner in the box. Somehow, the referee held off on the card, but Künzler didn't mind as he blasted the penalty confidently in.
Ropelearner FC could claim to have the better of the exchanges after that, as Grilled began to relax on their comfy lead. Gianluca Dioguardi made a hash of a gift in the 75th, unfortunately for the hosts, and although Chinese star Ye Junzheng winged in a showstopper from D'hoedt's assist with seven minutes remaining, it was far from enough.
There would be a positive reaction from the stands as Tian Yonghang
- who had captained the Birds and scored a brace into the bargain, in the last fixture between the clubs here, back in II.2 eleven seasons ago - came on late, but it wouldn't last very long as the ultra-experienced Tian immediately made himself useful by hogging the ball.