Top O' The Tables
The Birds went one better than they had last week, reaching the double digits against United Warrior Team - only the sixth time they had achieved that against league opposition in their history. With the regulatory process barring the Warriors from using even their depleted squad, they had to rustle up a bunch of affiliates and volunteers to face Grilled in this slaughterfest.
Their fanclub XI skipper Wahab Anis Mohd Azim probably had never dreamed of ever leading the actual Warriors team out, and it must have been a bittersweet experience for the doughty 31 year-old to claim that honour at The Cooking Pot. He had barely settled into rightback, though, when Chan Ze Han
and Cyril Künzler
made it 2-0 by the third minute, to highlight just how futile their quest was.
The Grilled supporters, perhaps all too aware of the emptiness of what was happening, were rather more restrained than usual, and this bled over to the players. Perhaps out of some deference to the history of this fixture, with this being the 16th in a long but possibly concluding series, they dialled it down a notch... at least up until centreback Yeoh Yeow Chun got too aggressive with Islom Davlatov
in the 24th minute.
It was back to normal business with that, and Künzler added to his tally almost immediately, arcing a wonderful strike over the huffing Ethan Chen after the free-kick was spun out to him. A few minutes later, the Polish wingman would turn provider, pinging Chu Xin Lee
after getting the ball passed back on an indirect free.
Another yellow, this time to Soh Chao Choon, perked the Birds up again as half-time approached, and it would be Yuta Nakakita
- making his hundredth start for the Birds - who would help complete Künzler's corner delivery. Chan Ze Han
then struck the bar on the Birds' next attack, only to get on the end of his own rebound, and connect with a solid volley to put it right back.
The heavily-awaited first Chan hat-trick wouldn't come, sadly, as he somehow wasn't overly interested either, often dropping far deeper than was necessary. That did result in a neat assist in the 55th minute, though, as he provided the fulcrum for Vikram Mudaliar
to break through and score the seventh with a right cannon from the middle.
The rain was falling hard now, which probably contributed to Grilled's next two goals, both of which had a heavy element of keeper error involved. First, Chu Xin Lee
's weak 65th minute nick would roll between Chen's legs, after the goalie stumbled on the easy pickup. A little later, Davlatov saw his shot skip a beat on a puddle, which was again enough to take it past the flustered amateur.
This meant that Grilled had equalled their haul from last week, but Vikram Mudaliar
would play no further part, as he went off for an excited Iman Eshrafi
. Goal number ten would come five minutes later, with Moey Xin Seng
taking it himself after finding the forwards crowded by the still-resolute defence.
It was now just a question of whether a new league record would be set, but the new Warriors were having none of that, even if Yuta Nakakita
came close with his dangerous diagonal ball, 84 minutes in. Prokol Mottl and Jérémy Tarin
would join up for a final attack in injury time, but Kalki Parvathaneni
would run that one out of bounds.