Tung Taken Out
Grilled stretched their unbeaten streak against newbies are newbies to seven games, as they put together a very useful 3-0 win in the Auld Derby. Massoud Dob
should also gain heart for the big midweek test, as he maintained a clean sheet - rare in this fixture - against some fierce efforts from the visitors.
With Florus Romijn
remaining unavailable with a strapped right knee, Neeraj Muthyala
was ordered to fill in at left wing, and Vikram Mudaliar
led the line with Islom Davlatov
acting as support. As for newbies, they came out in a 5-3-2, with a backline composed almost wholly of capped youngsters. 19 year-old sweeper Peh Ting Hao stood out as the exception, but his abilities especially in the air were exceptional, even among this collection of specialists.
newbies gaffer Sim Kian Eng hadn't put together a defensive unit known as a wall for nothing, and Romijn's absence was perhaps well-timed, seeing as crosses were unlikely to make headway against this arrangement. Grilled skipper Moey Xin Seng
clearly recognized that, as he continually signalled for his teammates to keep play on the ground, and narrow besides.
The Birds did secure control this way without too much contesting from newbies, who were counting on their defensive nous to carry them through. Indeed, Grilled weren't getting anywhere for the first twenty minutes or so - before Kalki Parvathaneni
turned on the afterburners. Peh was watching out for that, but Kalki's supreme speed got him across anyway, and Seetoh Aik Beng could only deflect the finish into the roof of his own net.
That definitely woke the crowd up, and Islom Davlatov
found himself infected by their energy, and got himself booked for snapping at Yap Chee Tong's heels. Grilled kept on slowly upping the tempo, and Muthyala blasted over from close up, in the 37th minute. The miss transformed into newbies' first real opportunity of the match, with Eric Johnson crudely, if effectively, stopped by Yuta Nakakita
. Brendan Pham's free-kick went through the wall, but Massoud Dob
was prepared for it.
Parvathaneni then got carded, seemingly as referee Olav van den Bergh's compensation for neglecting to penalize Yuta, before Grilled took over for the remainder of the half. At the other end, Cyril Künzler
rocked the crossbar with his own set-piece attempt, and the rebound was scuffed - again off the woodwork - by Davlatov. newbies didn't survive that in one piece, though, as Martin Tung had to retire with a bad thigh strain, incurred in trying to block Davlatov's follow-up.
Mok Nie Chao would be handed the torch, but would be found wanting against Vikram Mudaliar
's banger to open the second half. Seetoh Aik Beng managed a magnificent flying save then, thankfully for newbies, and an incisive return down their right flank by Gan Seng An found Wong Long Kok yet further ahead. The lung-bursting sprint took too much out of the fullback, however, and the final shot wasn't convincing enough.
newbies were beginning to play with more belief at that, but their spirits took a big blow, when Hoàng Trung Quá
put Grilled another goal ahead, 55 minutes in. Grilled had been knocking the ball about without finding any gaps in the opposition defence, when Moey suddenly made a go for it by himself. Although ultimately unsuccessful, the doomed run did open some space behind him, and Hoàng would thread it home with a dab of luck, after Chan Ze Han
's initial attempt was rejected.
That would also prove to be one of Hoàng's last touches, as he was soon after replaced by Yuki Irie
for the last half-hour. Hovaness Noubaryan
's instructions to him, going by his sideline gestures, were simple - protect the lead, see the game out, collect the points.
They were not exactly followed to the letter, as Grilled stayed true to their instincts, and committed to a concerted push in the 68th. Noubaryan would be duly furious when Vikram Mudaliar
was once more denied by Seetoh, and newbies nearly got themselves back in contention, though a no less determined counter. Yuta Nakakita
was on it, fortunately, and he did just enough to throw Peh Ting Hao off at the most crucial juncture.
Noubaryan's tirade after that saw Grilled sheepishly go with the plan, only to manage a third goal later on anyway. Ironically, it would be Yuki Irie
who would volunteer to join in the chase, as Cyril Künzler
plowed forward all by his lonesome on the right. Moey saw the possibilities from Künzler's low cross, and stepped over it for Yuki to bury with surprising venom.