Long Marches Out
Lentor FC's seventh round challenge was effectively over by the 31st minute, as S$7.65 million midfielder Long Wai-Hoe was sent off for an ugly two-footed jump in on Lee Jie Siong
. It was a body blow they never recovered from, though they did hit the post in the second half.
Grilled paraded young guns Jie Siong and Abd Hamid before an 84 000-strong crowd at the Lentor's Pulau Ubin stadium, calculating that the lsot muscle wouldn't hurt against a side known for defending stoutly and hitting back on fast counters. It was the right decision as Lentor sat back predictably, as Grilled set up battle lines deep in their half.Shen Kek-Tjiang
looked much improved as he made the central area his own, and brought about the first goal when his sliding shot carromed off ex-Brazillian U-20 defender Augusto Perneta's lower arm. It didn't look intentional, but still warranted a penalty which Sid put past Duncan Bakhtar, who didn't move.Lee Jie Siong
had not fully put his disappointment at not being selected for the national youth squad behind him, but produced a few visionary passes, one of which set Wai-Kin free on the right. Wai-Kin tested Bakhtar with a cheeky chip that threatened to find the far corner, but Bakhtar soared well to palm it out of play.
Abd Hamid was then slow to recover after Dutchman Sjoerd Bos robbed him of the ball, and Bona was forced to go over, leaving the centre empty. Lentor live and breathe for this kind of opportunity, and surged up with alarming pace. Grilled almost survived the scare as Rottman blocked the initial strike, but it spun between two Grilled players to tall Israeli sweeper Liran Bonfeld, who stuck out his foot and levelled the game.
Grilled urgently sought to restore their lead, and Hidde van Liere
exchanged passes with Rottman, leaving the outstanding Swiss midfielder with space to exploit. Martinsson drifted off and attracted two men to him, allowing Wai-Kin to rush in from behind to thrash a scorching volley past Bakhtar. Two-one.
Then came the red card for Wai-Hoe, whose timing was simply deplorable as Jie Siong had already shielded the ball and passed it on. Luckily Jie Siong's shinguards took the brunt of the impact, but that did not detract from the seriousness of the offence. The referee wasted no time in sending Wai-Hoe off.
The match wore on as Lentor found precious few attackers in support when they did have possession, and Grilled were accustomed to moving the ball in an arc around the opposition's penalty area. Lentor proved a tough nut to crack, as Falkbo found out after his cannonball header came off the crossbar and was hoofed to safety instantly.
Lone striker Ove Gillstad took matters into his own hand on the hour mark as he elected to run at goal rather than hold the ball up, and Falkbo made an uncharacteristic mistake in going for the challenge. Gillstad sidestepped but still had much to do - he almost did it when his wicked curler evaded Sulaiman, but came off the right post. Sid hacked it into touch.
That was Lentor's last chance of the game, as Grilled soldiered on. They lost Hidde van Liere
as he received a cracking blow to his knee, and he limped off for Han Kok to come in. Kek-Tjiang could have embellished his recent revival with a goal, but he sprayed his 73rd minute opportunity wide with the goal at his mercy.