Rope In Repeat
Islom Double Take
Grilled duplicated their result from Impossibility Camp, as returned another 5-3 victory that, even if it might not have pleased everyone in The Cooking Pot, definitely entertained. Ropelearner FC gave a good account of themselves especially in the first forty-five, but a resurgent Islom Davlatov
- who wasn't picked for the previous meeting - was altogether too much for Ropelearner to corral later on.
Last weekend's thrashing of newbies aside, it hadn't been a great month for Ropelearner, who earned but a single point in their three league fixtures before that. Head coach Milan Bakić persisted with his some-say-verging-on-reckless style despite that, moreover with the same XI as last time. The Birds' lineup for its part mostly picked itself with Mohammad Ramli Saliman
out, and Moey Xin Seng
slotted back into central mid alongside Chu Xin Lee
, with Davlatov playing to the left of attack.
Involved fans could be forgiven for wondering if that position was in the Uzbek's repertoire, given that he had always evinced the qualities of a centre forward, but such doubts would be dispelled in short order. Receiving a neat layoff in his stride, Davlatov gave Fabian Marburg the runaround expertly, before leaving it on for Chu Xin Lee
to squeeze in at Vânio Figueiredo Rodrigues' near post.
While obviously athletically-gifted, the 19 year-old Portuguese goalkeeper's decision-making has been questioned at times, and this was one occasion when it definitely deserved to be. There was no time for recriminations, though, and Rodrigues made up for it with a route-one goal kick that Miklós Eszik milked into a free-kick. Some intricate off-the-ball hustling afterwards, Piotr Widzyk would equalise with all the Grilled defenders looking the other way.
The home support had kind of been expecting this, though, and they were content with urging Grilled on to outscore the visitors. Chan Ze Han
answered the call, and he kept up his improving scoring record with a measured half-volley, to make it six goals from his last six appearances. It could have been more, but his header skidded off the post, two minutes after Ropelearner's Dániel Bejczi levelled again from a break down their left.
Though Grilled had marginally gotten the better of Ropelearner in midfield, it honestly remained a toss-up as to who would emerge with the points, given how chaotic the entire business was. Islom Davlatov
tipped the scales firmly in the Birds' favour right before half-time, as he rose alongside Koray Güner for Cyril Künzler
, and met it just before the encroaching fist of Rodrigues for 3-2.
Ropelearner understood that they would have to up their game for the second half, but they were handed another stiff blow, as Grilled swiftly added another on the other side of the interval. Moey Xin Seng
managed to cover thirty metres in the open field with the Ropelearner players preferring to cover the strikers tightly, and it appeared the right thing to do as Moey's attempt was blocked off... but only to Neeraj Muthyala
, who called for and got a snappy one-two to get free and score.
Opposing captain Gábor Gém reacted badly to that build-up, and his men mounted a response of a sort, with Gianluca Dioguardi's considerable pace and ability to turn on a dime nearly resulting in a goal. Grilled were no less dangerous when they bombed forward, however, and it was Davlatov who bagged once more from a header in the 56th, with Künzler again getting the weight on his cross just right.
The Ropelearner section must have had a sense of déjà vu when that hit the back of the net, and good-naturedly broke into a song referencing that. They were paid back in kind soon enough, as Ye Junzheng settled for a corner, on their next push. Marijan Grgeč delivered, and it was Valentin Batâr
's turn to look like a deer in the headlights, as he froze and allowed Bejczi to force his way in uncontested.
Surveying the situation, Djan Bacelar
figured that there was no need to take unnecessary risks and recalled Yuki Irie
for Hoàng Trung Quá
, who evidently had a brief to keep it simple and tidy at the back. As it turned out, this was indeed what Grilled needed, and Hoàng's fresher legs would prove invaluable against Dioguardi's runs.
The Birds were never quite under threat of giving up their lead from then on, and Chu might even have ended the match as it began, after he was set free for a one-on-one by Chan's genius through ball. Rodrigues demonstrated his value with a fantastic reflex stop almost directly off Chu's boot, though.