Grilled surrended the Singapore Community Shield to Winning Eleven after a season of ownership, as 31 year-old Markus Hultander tunnelled through after regular time turned up empty. It wasn't all doom and gloom for the Birds, however, as they put up a credible fight, and were let down by strangely subdued inside play.
Nearly four thousand spectators made the trip down to Geylang's Love Unlimited Arena, where Grilled unveiled their new shorts-and-socks combination for the first time locally. They were missing three prominent members of their record Cup winning streak, though, as Falkbo, Wai-Kin and Siu-Yue had gone on to new challenges.
Winning Eleven in contrast had only Tai Chan-San without at least a season's service, and their well-oiled moves denied Grilled the possession they craved. The loss of Siu-Yue was the most keenly felt, and Lorenz Paullin
's step into the creative role proved, if not a failure, then at least a wet blanket.
Newcomer Jaan Kadak
could have catapulted himself into instant popularity, as Grilled blew into the Winning Eleven defensive third in their first true attack of the day. Martinsson ran into a dead end, but picked out the eager Estonian with a backheel. Kadak showed some spirit in outmuscling Jacobsson, but flicked it terribly wide.
It was then the newly-crowned S-League winners' time to retaliate, and the hithero impregnable central defensive partnership of Bona and Fredgård was disintegrated by Avramidis' canny fakes. Bona put a foot wrong when he tried to pass across the defence, and the ageless David Klintskog intercepted. Just eight metres out and with no cover, Sulaiman's position appeared without hope, but he benefitted from Klintskog's less-than-perfect placement. No score.
Despite losing ground in the middle, Grilled had the more unpredictable offense, as the new team slowly gelled over the course of their first serious match together. It was a mish-mash of styles that led to the key event of the second half, one that should really have decided the contest in favour of Grilled.
With van Liere making little headway against an inspired Reinold Mönkhof, Shen Kek-Tjiang
provided an option and proceeded to dash to the goalline with astonishing speed. Out in the clear, Shen delivered a promising cross that Kadak nearly got a head to. His jump blocked Chan-San's view, and the ball rebounded off the defender's knee towards goal.
Jorge Guardiola came to the rescue with a diving stop, only to see Ola Martinsson
, whose pure poachers' instinct had guided him to that spot. Martinsson gleefully shifted it wide with his left foot, and was about to sweep it into an open goal when Guardiola made a superhuman lunge from being on all fours, and got both Martinsson and the ball.
Martinsson was clearly unhappy as the referee remained unmoved, and was still protesting as Guardiola scrambled to a secure hold and tossed the ball out to Delarue. Winning Eleven never let Grilled have a second close sniff at goal, but neither did they have a clear-cut chance as Fredgård was a rock to Bona's lock.
The dress rehersal for the season opener two weeks hence ended nil-all at full time, but Winning Eleven snatched the Shield with a golden goal soon after. Bona was found wanting for only the second time in the long game, but that was enough for top performer Markus Hultander to ghost in behind him, and drive a scorcher under Ahmed Abed-Sulaiman