Moey Plays Saviour
Grilled would once more tease their supporters by leaving it very, very late, as Sentosa III.12 side Sim(TM) kept them engaged on even terms until the bitter end. And, again, it was do-it-all Moey Xin Seng
who clinched it, this time from a midfield role.
Sim(TM), who have taken over the franchise once held by The Unbelieveable, had like Grilled enjoyed a fine start to the season. Their whipping of LeftBootRightFoot in the previous cup round had however deprived them of two of their best midfield players in Ernst-Jan Gorissen and Émile Ogoubihi, though they did still manage a comfortable 2-0 win over Terillions, despite the latter's reputed defence.
Further, the hosts had rested Milcho Tzvetkov - who had struck thrice in those games - for the day, instead trusting in Kenjiro Hirai to command an understrength selection to victory. Grilled didn't hold too much in reserve, and while they went with a young strikeforce, the rest of their XI was about as good as it got.
After an inconclusive string of skirmishes, Sim(TM) threatened with the first attempt on target, following Greek centreback Kostas Stathopoulos' expedient clearance that countryman Ploutarchos Sifakas helped on its way. Targetman Aleksander Hoffa applied a cracking header to the far bottom corner, that Valentin Batâr
only just barely tipped around the post.
The Birds responded strongly, and Chan Ze Han
- entrusted with the armband for the day - made some nice off-the-ball runs, one of which came up with an assist in the 14th minute. A disguised clip sideways gave Mohammad Ramli Saliman
an easy in, against the mesmerised Ottokar Recke. Recke didn't have much time to mull over that, as he had to scramble to palm Chu Xin Lee
's dipping volley aside, bare few minutes later. Cyril Künzler
might have yet mopped that up, but alas, he was for once a step too slow.
Grilled were hardly pinning Sim(TM) back, for all their offensive intent, and the home team would gradually swing the flow back their way. Yuta Nakakita
and Yuki Irie
coped mostly, but they would be found wanting 36 minutes in, as a far-ranging Stathopoulos surprised with his willingness to dribble in. His close control was a thing of marvel as he vaulted Yuki's final challenge, before picking his spot to equalise.
Batâr would be fortunate not to concede a second shortly afterwards, after a poor choice of pass following Aleksander Hoffa's bad tackle on Yuta Nakakita
gifted a free-kick in prime position right back to Sim(TM). German playmaker Dario Škoro swerved an unstoppable effort away from the helpless goalie, who was relieved to watch it ricochet off the woodwork eventually.
The second half began likewise indecisively, but Grilled appeared to hold a slight edge in overall fitness. Heng Long Lee would start to struggle against Florus Romijn
's nimbleness, and Sim(TM) head coach Eduard Schuster opted for the indirect fix, throwing Polish defender Maciej Sulowski on with a mission to get physical.
Grilled were pulling away in terms of ball possession, for all that, and Recke had to pull off a top save from Künzler in the 65th. Paolo Toninelli then replaced Hoffa, hoping to challenge the Birds' backline from another dimension, but all the activity had shifted away from that area by then. Chan Ze Han
raised hopes with a blazing run in the 75th, but Recke was once more quick with his hands.
Unwilling to leave their opponents with an opportunity to turn it around, the Birds pressed on hard, and Iman Eshrafi
was booked for leaving a foot in against Dario Škoro on their next move, drawing plenty of jeers. The Sim(TM) fans were otherwise not too disappointed, as their defence continued to hold up; Cyril Künzler
was moreover reaching his limits in the heat, and when Mohammad Ramli Saliman
smashed Romijn's cross well wide with five minutes remaining, the script felt ready for a twist favouring the hosts.
That didn't happen, as Grilled continued breathing down their opponents' necks. Sim(TM) were obviously trying to conserve their energy for extra time as best as they could, and it would finally haunt them when Moey Xin Seng
went on the rampage, doubling up down the right flank. Veteran Ong Chuan Kum couldn't keep up, and Chu Xin Lee
bolted forward in a flash, drilling a stunner in off Recke for 1-2.
Moey would then seal it himself in the very next minute, as the deflated hosts barely picked themselves off the ground following that setback.