Marty Breaks Duck
Although the turnout at the Cooking Pot was disappointing, Grilled gave them something to celebrate by putting Season Eleven national champions Team Singapore to the sword. Perhaps more significantly, Grilled's third and last goal was by Ola Martinsson
, who thus prevented Grilled's strikers from going an incredible ten matches without scoring.
It was Kadak who started the stronger, as the Estonian forward sought to improve upon his dismal return of four Cup goals despite playing in almost all of Grilled's competitive games. He barged past Hua Kok-Peng after receiving the ball out wide, and surprised Chew Xiaolun with a superb angled inswinger that shook the goalframe.
While Kadak would not garner his first league goal just yet, he had a definite part to play in creating Grilled's opener. Sid hit a rather short corner that dropped heavily to Kadak, who flicked it high with his toe. Xiaolun barely managed to cut out the high ball at full stretch, but couldn't maintain his hold on the ball to the delight of Rottman, who swiftly kneed it into goal.
Grilled were buoyed by that early lead, and played with more conviction than they had done for ages. There was geniune invention as they went in search of a second, and Borup was especially lively on the left. He sprung Team Singapore's offside trap to go one-on-one with Xiaolun, but the goalie had to do nothing in the end as Borup overhit his lob.
Borup did better the next time as he found Anders Fredgård
cutting in from behind him, and freed him with a pretend dribble. The Swedish defender still had a lot of work to do as he didn't have the ideal position for a shot, but went for it anyway and had the joy of seeing his stiff toepoke enter between Xiaolun and his near post.
Already two goals up within half an hour, Grilled continued to dazzle, and Martinsson nearly made it a dream third from the restart. Kadak intercepted a poor forward pass, and played it straight to the Swede icon, who sidestepped a challenge and let loose a screamer. Xiaolun responded with a world class save to extend Martinsson's agony.
It was one-way traffic in the second half too, as Team Singapore couldn't gather up the spirit to adventure in Grilled's half. Sid sashayed his way past Jue Shiu-Fai on the right flank to earn a shot at Xiaolun, who dived early and far to beat out the ball which was headed for his bottom corner.
Fredgård kept on trying and bludgeoned a mighty strike towards the Team Singapore goal in the 51st minute. There was nothing elegant about that effort, but it was so hard that Xiaolun did not manage to catch it first time, but instead had to absorb its impact by hitting it vertically upwards before claiming it on the second try.
Then, the moment that all had been waiting for came. With 862 minutes of fruitlessness by Grilled's strikers already past, Martinsson got the ball with his back to goal. He looked one way, swivelled the other, then gave the ball to Kadak, who waited until his partner was past Shiu-Fai before giving it right back.
It was now or never, the stadium held its breath as Martinsson advanced on Xiaolun unimpeded. Would the curse strike again? Certainly Xiaolun, an U-20 veteran, was formidable in such circumstances, but Martinsson held the initiative and tricked his way past the goalkeeper, effortlessly putting the ball into an unguarded net.
His first act was to take an uncharacteristic run down the sidelines, waving his index finger at the jubilant spectators. The significance of his gesture was unmistakeable - it would be the first of more to come. The old Martinsson was well and truly back.