Mosues Shued Away
Islom Comes Up Big
The Birds made their way to the fourth round of the Singapore Cup by narrowly seeing off mosueinashuebox of Division Two, in their first matchup against the Serangoon club. As most anticipated, Grilled dominated time on the ball as the Mosues tried their usual soak-and-strike, and indifferent finishing nearly cost them dear.
The nominal visitors were coming off a 1-2 loss in the league to Galactic Eagles in which star Danish forward Jannick Understrup had to leave with his ribcage strapped, which had to be a blow to his team given his outstanding hat-trick against newbies are newbies in the previous round. In his stead, Bolivian reserve Adam Sánchez Recio would partner out-and-out striker Rendert de Hoop, but it just wasn't the same.
mosueinashuebox would again overload their right side, and Djan Bacelar
's tactical response was to ask Yuki Irie
to stay back. Fears that this was inadequate were soon realised, as the Mosues would score freely on their first real counter of the day. Islom Davlatov
elected to strike it when off-balance, and a huge throw by Strahinja Gorić after the easy save sparked a total breakdown of Grilled's formation. de Hoop laid it off to his captain and former South Korean legend Yoon-Hwa Lee, who flaunted his class with an elegant take.
This was quite unsettling for Grilled, who seemed unsure of how much to commit in the next minutes. Their opponents were only too eager to prey on their hesitancy, and they would again beat a path through the middle about twelve minutes in. Somehow, Kristóf Minarik chose not to stay on his feet despite Yuta Nakakita
appearing to be there for the taking, and this turned a great chance into a booking for the disgruntled Hungarian defender.
The near-escape did the Birds a world of good, and they began getting ahold of themselves. Understrup's departure began to be sorely missed, and Grilled would gradually call the Mosues' bluff, and they began playing a higher and higher line to compress play. The siege was on, and it reaped dividends in the 17th minute, as Yuta Nakakita
hit the jackpot with a speculative pop from deep.
The remainder of the first half was mostly indecisive, with Yuki Irie
's shout for a penalty rejected, after Gorić seemed to clatter him while punching the ball away, as Yuki tried to bring it under control. mosueinashuebox were not without their own openings either, as Lee attempted to work his magic again, as Timūras Flaksas again bombed down their nominally-weaker flank. His technique was way off this time, however.
Davlatov continued to be highly engaged, despite a yellow card for his overconfident challenge on Minarik, and even the usually self-sufficient Moey Xin Seng
would increasingly look to him for ideas. This cumulated in a suddent spurt of chances around the 55th minute, beginning with half-contact by Davlatov on Mohammad Ramli Saliman
's short cross, leading to a heart-in-the-mouth instant as Moey fought to get on the end of the deflection - unsuccessfully, as it turned out.
The rushed clearance didn't get far, and Florus Romijn
exploded inside after sprinting to retrieve it on the left touchline, only for Cyril Künzler
to overrun his excellently-driven effort into the six-yard box. Three minutes later, an irrepressible Davlatov combined with a jazzed-up Romijn to make another attacking header, but this one was barely tipped over by Gorić, for no corner awarded.
This had all the makings of a late steal by the Mosues, with de Hoop noticeably conserving himself for the big break. That would never quite come as the Birds had gotten much better at cutting out the supply, though, and Davlatov finally ground out the winner in the 73rd, forcing it into the net after his energetic dribble came off Joost Geimer and fell in just the right position.
would have a power shot parried by Gorić barely two minutes on, and the Birds might have had cause to regret that, as mosueinashuebox transpired to be pretty competent when taking the initiative too. Head coach Egil Herup had his hands tied on the substitution end, though, and one sensed that had they the right striker candidate, Grilled could have been in trouble.
As it was, Recio just wasn't of the calibre to stitch it all together, and the Mosues were left with throwing all they had, hoping that something would stick. It was thus Grilled's turn to play defence, and they would ultimately ride it out more comfortably than most of their supporters dared dream.