Cooked by the Champs
Grilled's proud home record against local teams this season finally fell to a resurgent ChAmPzz side, who are establishing themselves as Grilled's new bogey team. Grilled have now lost five consecutive league meetings with the Orchard club, with Paullin's goal today the only one scored in those matches.
Understandably Grilled had to reserve themselves for Wednesday's Cup final, so as with last year, first-teamers who were on two yellow cards were rested. This time, Siu-Yue sat out together with Sid, but Wai-Kin made a surprise return days before schedule. It was to be a demoralizing warmup for him, though.
ChAmPzz were also more or less at full strength, and they were quick to pounce on Paullin's uncertainity in the central midfield position. Han Kok was also nowhere in sight when Gulpen tore down the right flank, and free-ranging wingback Rao You-De muscled in to put ChAmPzz in front as early as the second minute.
Alcántara wasn't too convincing standing in for Sid either, and the player-coach had clearly put on a few pounds since he was last a fixture in the starting eleven. His lack of match practice showed when he was bullied out of the ball by Duvfeldt, though thankfully Bona was stationed at the post and spared Grilled from going under again.
While Paullin never looked secure in the middle, he was far more effective when visiting the flanks, and on one such run had van Liere on his outside. A neat one-two removed both defenders, and the Swiss midfielder sped through to knock a low shot past Per Ödahl and bring some smiles to the Grilled crowd.
ChAmPzz regained their lead before the break through Gulpen, who had a great day capitalizing on Han Kok's disdain of defending. Ex-Finnish U-20 striker Eero Kauppi tried to extend the advantage through a noteworthy twenty-metre attempt that was a mix of a cross and a shot, but it whistled inches over the crossbar.
There was a surge of anticipation in the last few seconds of the half as speed merchant Han Kok was in full flight towards a less than optimal backpass, but Ödahl reacted quickly too. The inevitable conclusion of two players not willing to give in was Ödahl sliding the ball away a split second before Han Kok got a boot into his chest, for which the young winger got booked.
Grilled knew that fortune was not on their side in the 52nd minute, as Hägerflod's first-time connection with a bouncing ball lifted it over several men and right into the top far corner of the goal, leaving Sulaiman with no recourse. The Egyptian was prepared to be more forgiving as no defence in the world could have prevented that.
Sulaiman would kick himself for the fourth and final nail in the coffin, as he made his first fumble in recent memory off a Kauppi flick-on. Hägerflod was between him and the ball, and American midfielder Chance Chu accelerated into the six-yard box to finish it point blank.
It looked like getting worse when Grilled's master of attack Hidde van Liere
was clipped on the knee five minutes later. With the score already a foregone conclusion, a vexed Alcántara had no qualms in giving Bukhari Abd Hamid
his thirty minutes of soccer. The teenager fitted in nicely, but was no threat to turn the lost cause around.