Two Times The Chan
The Birds went a long way towards making up their goal difference gap on Robbie Football Club with a 7-0 home win over Really McCoys, the largest since their result by the same margin against Black Banana FC at the beginning of last season.
Without cup distractions, Djan Bacelar
had a free hand to post his strongest combination without any qualms. Interestingly, this saw Moey Xin Seng
captaining the team from central midfield, with Chan Ze Han
tasked with attacking from the right. This would, to the delight of the near 50000-strong home crowd, work magnificently.
McCoys were themselves going through a rough patch, with head coach Abhishek Iyer's decision to forego friendlies in order to be 100% focused on league competition not having the intended effect. Their Emerald Challenger Cup exit to Ramseille Volliard had been followed by losses to -Blitz- and RFC, though Scottish striker Colm Britton did at least find the net against the latter.
He wouldn't get a sniff this day, however, as an unusually-enterprising Grilled side intimidated their visitors from the start. Their attempted wide balls to Vehmas and Cazzani were mercilessly picked off by the Birds' own wingers, and Grilled were ahead by the fifth minute as Moey Xin Seng
shrugged a late-arriving Fabrizio Fornesi off, to meet Cyril Künzler
It was perhaps a particularly bad time for McCoys to come to The Pot, going by their extra-cautious passing when they did get possession, before hapharzardly getting rid of it under Grilled's press. As one commentator noted, this was more-or-less waiting to be beaten, and nimble goals from young forwards Chan Ze Han
d and Kalki Parvathaneni
more or less snuffed their hopes out by the 28th minute.
If the home support recognized a lack in attacking variety - with Grilled's active wingers with few exceptions being the ones to drive the action - they weren't showing it. Cyril Künzler
, relatively low-profile the last month or so, was particularly into it. Moments after assisting Neeraj Muthyala
for an easy fourth, he didn't let up on his takedown of McCoys skipper Jaani Vehmas, earning himself a carding and the enmity of the visiting gallery.
Künzler would thrive despite the hostility, and after Valentin Batâr
made a great save to deny Urbano Cazzani his curler from a free-kick, the Polish winger would be called upon to take a penalty for handball in the McCoys box. All the booing and the whistling in the world had no impact, as he simply thumped straight it into the left corner after his usual stuttering run-up.
was feeling spunky too, going by his effervescent if ill-advised volley after getting behind his marker on the next attack. Bacelar wasn't getting complacent despite the game effectively being in the bag, though, and he would pull an underperforming Mohammad Ramli Saliman
off for Chu Xin Lee
at half-time. Yuki Irie
was then subbed off for Hoàng Trung Quá
too, but that one seemed more to get some fresh legs on, than due to any failings.
To be frank, it wasn't clear if Grilled actually needed any of that, as McCoys seemed by far the more tentative and haggard after being constantly forced on the defensive. Fornesi tried hard to organize a response from the middle, but his teammates would consistently find no ready outlets, as Grilled continued cutting their angles off without pause.
would not get on the scoresheet for the day, and came closest in the 62nd, when a nifty toepoke pinged the upright. What came after that was probably the most celebrated strike of the match, as Parvathaneni and Chan exuded a youthful exuberance as they slashed their way together upfield. Going by Kalki's unselfishness as he squared it over despite having a fine shooting position himself, this is a partnership that should result in many more goals to come.
Iyer was just glumly counting the minutes down now, as Markus Fischler was ultimately not called upon despite warming up on the flanks for a long while. Yuta Nakakita
would not add to his impressive tally, after a swipe from twenty yards flashed inches over, but Cyril Künzler
would find a seventh with his admirable free-kick technique, fittingly 77 minutes in.