Ending With A Bang
Grilled claimed a 2nd-place finish in the S-League by dismantling Herron 5-1 in front of a rabid full house. Though the result didn't matter all that much, Grilled relished the freedom of playing under no pressure, and it showed in some blinding offensive play.
Herron placed high hopes on their new midfielder Peng Phong, who returned to Singapore from Luxembourg's Nationaldivisioun for a knock-down S$4.3 million. 23 year-old Othman bin Ib Berahim, who had not managed to pin down a permanent spot in Herron's forward line, had however left for Sweden in a S$7.6 million deal.
It was all Grilled, all the way in the opening minutes, as Herron threw caution to the wind and appeared to be satisfied with only two dedicated defenders. Quah Han Kok
had a field day with an empty field ahead of him on the right, and scooped in a premature cross that Sid didn't manage to squeeze under Abd Rauf Mohd Nadzir.
The national goalie was the hero again minutes later, after Wai-Kin was impeded by Yardan Omar in the penalty area. Sid had not failed to convert a penalty for years, but his impeccable record was finally broken when Abd Rauf Mohd Nadzir sensed the direction of the kick, and touched it around the post.
Still, Grilled had plenty of chances to go around, and three minutes later Jon Andrea Rottman
recorded only his second league goal this season. Siu-Yue tried to set up a one-two, but Rottman kept the ball and twisted past two men before opening fire. Abd Rauf Mohd Nadzir was marginally too late as Rottman's shot rolled in at the right hand post.
Herron were dealt another blow as the experienced Nie Yong-chul was roughed up in a struggle to keep possession, and had to have some magic spray applied to both his knees. They did hang on bravely, but their ambition to see through the first half with a single-goal deficit was spoilt by Siu-Yue's finish from four metres.
In the 43rd minute, player-coach Luis Alcántara
marked a rare appearance with his first league goal in two seasons, though to be fair van Liere had the most to do with it. Admirable harrassment from the Dutch winger forced Omar into a shaky backpass, which Alcántara was first to. A clever first touch pushed it past the goalkeeper, and he only had to retain his balance to tuck it into the net.
Herron were finding it hard to break down Grilled's central defence despite having three strikers, partly due to Sid being told to play closer to the middle for this game, due to Falkbo's transfer. Argentine striker Aldo Esteban Nardi pulled one back from a wide play by S$9.8 million Aussie winger Richard Ashton, with a magnificent chip that had some Grilled fans ruefully applauding.
The supporters could well afford to be generous in victory, though, as the evergreen Ola Martinsson
left his cameo till late. Invisible for long stretches, Martinsson demonstrated his lethality with a two-goal blitz in three minutes. Slippery as a snake, there was little Niclas Ulfsson could do on both occasions.
Siu-Yue then saw a wicked curler come off the top of a post, though the ensuing dash for the loose ball had van Liere being upended by a Herron player. Sid stepped forward to take the free-kick, but it was clearly not one of his better days, seeing as how his unstoppable direct blast whistled just over the crossbar.