No Second Jess
Chan Takes Chances
Grilled made it three wins out of three in the group stage of the SCC, and avenged their 0-6 Singapore Cup whitewash by jessica FC to boot. This time armed with a lineup almost wholly staffed by regulars, they controlled and contained the Woodlanders deftly, and strode to a 3-1 outcome.
jessica FC were up for a vigorous exercise too, what with their III.9 decider against Kim Tae Hee FC coming after, and they will be eager to make a quick return to Division Two. Swiss wingman Sebi Menzi was absent with an ankle knock, but they had otherwise rolled out their big guns, chief amongst them Sean Tenant - who had put three past Grilled in that Cup clash.
The memories were all too fresh for Moey Xin Seng
and Neeraj Muthyala
, the former who made sure to inform opposing skipper Gennady Voytekhovich that he hadn't forgotten; this attitude seeped over to the rest of the team, from how Vikram Mudaliar
hastened over to delay Roman Bakuta from taking a free-kick quickly, in just the second minute. Mudaliar might have been booked for that, but he earned a heavy dose of appreciation from Moey too.
The early going belonged to the Birds, who were just that little bit more aggressive, and jessica's turning to the break didn't work out for them. The speed in Grilled's midfield line was always going to be a problem, and Kalki Parvathaneni
would burst out encountering next to no resistance, in the 16th minute. Costantino Marinangeli tracked back well and got in an excellent last-ditch challenge from the back, but the ball only went to the waiting Moey, who sidefooted home to open.
That spurred Grilled to even greater efforts, and Chan Ze Han
would hook a speculative effort high, with Mudaliar positively screaming for it. All was forgotten in moments as Bilal Mohammad Harun
put himself at the forefront of several hair-raising forays, but he would be refused first by Voytekhovich, and then the woodwork.
That second miss was transformed into the counter that jessica had long been seeking, but French left winger Tristan Brunon didn't like what he saw as he brought it up the middle, with the Birds having the numbers back. Shrugging his shoulders, he pegged a mighty effort from all of forty yards, and Krystian Rykowski
wouldn't have been able to do much, had it drifted slightly lower and across.
Brunon's little wake-up call was duly received, and the Birds returned to tearing it up with their considerable pace. Islom Davlatov
was next to be aggrieved as Chan Ze Han
only had eyes for his own shot, after stumbling his way through a mass of bodies, but the Number Eleven got it entirely right with his take to the top corner.
It was two-nil, and looking pretty bad for jessica FC indeed, as they never managed to work themselves into the running. Marinangeli was their best player as he broke attacks and launched them in equal measure, but the distance to his forwards was usually just too much, and Grilled's defenders had few worries when the inevitable punts came in.
Their condition got no better with the restart, which had a Chu Xin Lee
in tip-top shape replacing Davlatov. Within minutes, they had to watch Yuki Irie
slip the ball past Jens Jenß, before forcing Voytekhovich to tip his volley out for a corner. That wasn't fully cleared, and Voytekhovich had to be on his toes again, to punch Kalki Parvathaneni
's swerving effort back outside.
A third goal was always coming, and the Birds got their chance when Jens Jenß took Mudaliar down in the 65th. The German was preparing to plead his case, when Mudaliar simply sent Chan Ze Han
clear for a successful one-on-one. Understandably, the jessica FC players were convinced that the free-kick had to be replayed, but referee Humberto Paredes let it stand - and booked Jenß into the bargain.
Ugly scenes were brewing as the outraged Woodlanders crowded the referee, and Grilled did their bit to defuse the tension, with a drawn-out substitution: Bilal Mohammad Harun
and Leong Wan Kang
would spend some time chatting on the sidelines, before the latter could be waved on.
jessica FC would get the goal that they probably deserved on the very next play, as their players pushed themselves as only the wronged could. Grilled were unprepared for the guileless if highly effective massed rush from kick-off, and Cezar Dincu would wind up busting a hole in the defence, before picking Krystian Rykowski
off with a banger.
The Birds were in no hurry to get the game back going after that explosion of activity, and they would turn to calm things as much as they can, further removing Neeraj Muthyala
for Prokop Mottl
. It happened that they were as good at keeping possession as they were at using it, and the match would end with Tenant fruitlessly trying to chase Hoàng Trung Quá
down, in his own penalty area.