A Point Too Far
No Hits, Few Misses
Grilled stretched their league losing streak to ChAmPzz to an astounding six matches, but at least kept them down to a single goal - Each of those previous defeats had been by two or more goals. Grilled were due for a breakthrough soon, but most punters agreed that it would not be today, an away boiler with the Birds' key men in indifferent form. They were right.
As Shen struggled with a dodgy ankle caused by a misstep in training, Luis Alcántara
figured that the club had little to lose, and experimented with a rather contradictory strategy. He restored the adventurous van Liere to the lineup, while instructing the rest of the side to be compact in defence.
This bit of gamesmanship appeared to be taking effect as Grilled coasted comfortably after ChAmPzz expended themselves in the first fifteen minutes. Kauppi and Chance Chu both had Sulaiman to blame for rejecting their early efforts, but truth be told their shots were by no means exceptional. Dutch winger Koen Gulpen meanwhile was riled by van Liere's alleged playacting, and got a yellow card for verbally assaulting his countryman.
ChAmPzz's best opportunity of the half was from a dead ball situation, after Rottman tangled with Yah-Lin at the foot of the penalty area. Up stepped Hägerflod to tee the indirect free kick to 32 year-old Michael Duvfeldt, whose wicked left foot grounder passed under the jumping wall. Sulaiman was taken aback, but fortunately for the Egyptian goalkeeper, it went about a metre wide.
Duvfeldt opted to float his next free kick into the box, but Kauppi's 57th minute header was nowhere on target. Grilled broke through Fredgård on the left, but this would prove to be their undoing as Han Kok didn't have any end-product, and ChAmPzz were strong in numbers in the Grilled half.
There was a buzz of excitement as player-coach Simon Claesson's cultured long ball fell kindly in front of local playmaker Zhao Jong-chih, who used his strength to push ahead of Fabian Bona
. Sulaiman recognized the danger and sprinted off his line, only for Zhao to make his alertness irrelevant with a fabulous inswinging volley to the far post.
This was what the home crowd wanted, as Grilled did not look likely to score at all. ChAmPzz were desperate to gain the first win of their season after a disappointing, if exciting, home draw with Herron and a narrow loss to Codingin. They appeared well on their way to all three points, making it a point to hem in Grilled's only creative threat in van Liere.
Han Kok raised a few eyebrows with a combative elbow into Chu's midsection, which owning to his facing the other way brought just a yellow card. He had just sat out Grilled's Wednesday Cup game due to a red card at Cantik, and before that had also been booked at Winning Eleven for a hat-trick of dubious merit.
Kent Jespersson followed Han Kok into the referee's book, and then defender Mohd Firdaus bin Mat Jusoh missed an absolute sitter by crashing his effort into the post from five metres with Sulaiman engaged at the other end of goal. Kauppi likewise hit the woodwork with three minutes to go, but Grilled were never in sight of an equaliser.