Easy For Chan
Between a Walk and a Hard Pace had enjoyed a flawless first two seasons, as they topped their league first in Division Four, and then in Division Three. However, with mosueinashuebox delaying their ambitions with a 5-0 sweep in their qualifier earlier in the month, and Grilled today bettering that with a 6-0 romp, José Casimiro Barreira's players may be up for some soul-searching.
Observers had warned of Between's dependence on veteran troopers, and the XI led out by Polish right winger Florian Martin was indeed aged the wrong side of thirty. Although their combined experience had often put them in good stead, the Birds were not as easily put off. After an early test from Vendelín Černohorský was repelled, Cyril Künzler
staged an incursion down the right, and Chan Ze Han
kept his wits and feet about him, to tap a first touch past Apolodor Galbură before turning the ball in.
The third-minute lead was very welcome as the Birds swamped their opponents in midfield, with Between debutant Ulf Richter given little time to settle. He would eventually prove a quality defensive roadblock however, and Grilled were limited to Yuta Nakakita
's powerful rake in the 17th minute, for most of the remainder of the half.
A one-nil score didn't reflect the reality of the game, and the Birds' constant pressure would tell towards the end of the half. Kalki Parvathaneni
took the overworked Galbură on in the 38th minute, and although the Moldovan centreback put in a superb tackle the first time, it merely fell nicely for Iman Eshrafi
to stick home; Galbură's attempt to recover that was admirable but ultimately doomed, and he would be booked for his late takedown of the Iranian scorer.
That was curtains for the visitors, as their belief completely broke with the second goal. Cyril Künzler
would race through to record a third while encountering minimal resistance immediately after that, and Eshrafi would add his second through an instinctive first-time low volley before half-time, as Between couldn't cope with the pace.
The comfortable lead was an invitation for Hovaness Noubaryan
to save some legs, and Florus Romijn
and Yuki Irie
were indeed withdrawn at half-time, to allow Prokol Mottl and Hoàng Trung Quá
an in. In any case, the second half started much as the first had, with Künzler spraying an excellent cross to Chan Ze Han
. This time, Chan would back off Jérôme Le Caer to meet it with a glancing header instead, and beat Hui with his exquisite technique.
Between's frustration was mounting, and José Paulo Pereira would be booked for delaying the restart, as he tried to convince the referee that Chan had been offside. Martin had to calm his defender down, and it was becoming evident that their organization was coming apart at the seams.
Not that it was of any concern of Grilled, who continued humming along. For all of Lionel Pecquery's efforts at shadowing Künzler, the Pole remained by far the most effective player on either side at making things happen, as he did with his sudden change in direction in the 66th minute. Distracted by the other forwards, Between's defence left Künzler completely unmarked as Mottl swung it in, and it was suddenly 6-0.
This meant that no less than three Birds players were on hat-tricks, and the main question for the remainder of the match was whether any of them might complete theirs. The home crowd were clearly rooting for Chan to get his first one, a sentiment reciprocated by his teammates, but this ironically served only to tighten Between's watch on the precocious forward.
Chan's best opportunity probably arrived in the 79th minute, when he stuttered sideways to lose his marker, right as Mohammad Ramli Saliman
's through pass came to him. The Cooking Pot held its collective breath as he swung with only Hui to beat from ten yards, but it would disappointingly bounce off the turf, and then over the crossbar.
Between's target had shifted to denying Chan sometime about then, and this resulted in much confusion as they massed about him. Pereira would come off the worse after he got his legs tangled with Chu Xin Lee
about the 84th minute, which led to much pushing and shoving as emotions ran over. Referee Everaldo Lalande would only regain control after awhile, and Vendelín Černohorský became the third Between man to get a yellow card, as Pereira went off injured.
His replacement Benito Huenchul would enter a match that had long outlived its purpose, and Chan Ze Han
made one more attempt at his hat-trick, whipping in a hybrid cross-shot with four minutes remaining. Unfortunately, it was both too high for Moey Xin Seng
, and moreover several metres wide of the far post.