Give And Take
In a reprisal eight seasons in the making, Grilled Birds repaid United Warrior Team for the 8-0 humiliation they endured in a disastrous S-League season, bettering it with a 0-9 on the very same ground. This Warriors side was, it went without saying, not comparable with that last, but from how the visiting fans behaved, payback was no less satisfying for that.
Something of this magnitude was not entirely unexpected, given how the in-administration Warriors had fared against the other clubs in the league, with Ropelearner FC having managed a 7-0 a month ago. German player-coach Marcel Liefke had done well to make their latest matches at least credibly competitive, but given how they hand not managed to score since their draw with FC Pires, few expected them to take points off Grilled.
It began with the usual script, with the Warriors defending in force, and it became just a question of how soon the Birds could find a way through. Will Lei didn't do his future prospects much harm with a disciplined shift in midfield, but he badly overlooked Islom Davlatov
's attacking instincts in the 19th minute. Surging forward where most would have played a waiting pass, Davlatov skipped past Lei, then had the ball come kindly off Chia Huat Long, before he crashed home a stylish opener.
The home fans knew what was coming after that, as Grilled pressed their advantage without hesitation, and he had a piledriver go in off Liefke's fingertips, after a smart give-and-go with Chan Ze Han
. Newcomer Vikram Mudaliar
came good five minutes after that with a cheeky lob, as the Warriors' hassled goalkeeper nearly kept out. The referee would award it after consultation, fortunately for Mudaliar, who recognized that he probably should simply have put his laces through that.
Despite their reduced circumstances, the Warrior supporters kept up the banter in their fifteenth game against the Birds, and it was hard not to feel slightly for them, at what their team had become. Their mix of youth and veterans were clinging to pride more than anything else, and after a harsh yellow to Davlatov for some theatrics, Chan Ze Han
and Chu Xin Lee
added to Grilled's tally with good supply from Florus Romijn
exchanged a few sympathetic words with fellow custodian Liefke when their paths crossed on the sidelines, but this attitude certainly didn't extend to the bloodlusted Grilled players. With goals clearly on the menu, and league leaders -Blitz- playing out a tedious tie against newbies elsewhere, there was little reason for the Birds to let up.
This translated to three goals right after the restart, with the break apparently having done much more for the visiting Birds. Although Warriors tried to hang on with numbers behind, they remained vulnerable to honest pace, something that Grilled now had in abundance across their forward line. The rout continued with Vikram Mudaliar
, who made Chia Huat Long - no tortoise himself - look positively slow, en route to slashing his second in with precision.
Davlatov then slung a brilliant long pass by Yuta Nakakita
home on their next possession, before Siddiq Mantali suffered the same fate as Chia, when faced with Kalki Parvathaneni
darting about from the left. Solomon Seetoh was engaged with Romijn, but it was likely that he couldn't have done much either, as Parvathaneni threaded the needle to surprise Liefke at his post.
Having fully accounted for their painful defeat with that, the Birds still had forty minutes remaining to make it really hurt. It was certainly not for want of trying that they didn't rack the goals up, as the Warriors battled with a grim determination. With their services not exactly required, Yuki Irie
and Chan Ze Han
would be withdrawn on the hour, for Hoàng Trung Quá
and Mohammad Ramli Saliman
The lull in Grilled's rhythm gave Warriors the out that they had been waiting for, and they risked a breakout from their throw-in. Saliman closed in too slowly, allowing Alexander Tan to measure his ball over the top, which Chia Huat Long picked up in space. Unfortunately for the home fans, he didn't realise the time that he had, and sent his shot flying well over.
With their best - and only - chance of the day gone begging, the hosts made it their business to deny Grilled, with Lei and Chia exhibiting admirable bustle. They might even had succeeded in this mission, had the former not slipped up with a pass hit short at Seetoh; Parvathaneni was eyeing something just like that, and he came away with the ball after a short race, before driving it in for his maiden professional hat-trick.