Canned By Cantik
Strikers Light Up
Grilled's strikers chose the penultimate match of the season to finally strut their stuff, but their goals that came on either end of a high-scoring game were not enough for Grilled to take anything away from Cantik FC. The hosts had built up a formidable first-half lead, which rode them over a tired second period.
Grilled were already badly handicapped with both Sulaiman and Rottman some days away from recovery, and the loss of these two titans hurt badly. Rottman at least had able deputies, but it is safe to say that Bao-Tam, while a solid keeper with years of experience, is no Ahmed Abed-Sulaiman
Anticipating a lightweight squad, Alcántara compensated with a tight midfield designed to hold up attacks. The abandoned width played right into Cantik's hands, as was feared, but Alcántara viewed it as the lesser of two evils. Bona was also reinstated after his rehabilation in friendlies and reserve matches.
It was Kadak who stole the show early, unexpectedly, as the longtimer Wan Cheng-Gong lingered on the ball for a moment too long with his back turned. Kadak went in hard and fast, and Cheng-Gong's cries for a foul went unheeded as the Estonian happily thrashed a right-footed drive past Stanciu. He risked a caution as he wheeled away with his jersey half-off, probably more in relief at not going a season without a league goal than due to the joy of scoring itself.
His elation was cut short as Cantik levelled from the restart. The blue-and-white stripes of the home team were spread out all over Grilled's half, and Bona didn't know who to mark as two opponents rushed him down the left flank. In the end, he couldn't stop either as they wall-passed around him, and Gustav Ovesson slotted in at the far post.
Grilled sorely missed Rottman's all around excellence as the first half wore on, and while Kek-Tjiang, Paullin and Han Kok are formidable midfielders in their own right, Rottman remains probably the most complete player ever to wear a green shirt. An illustrative moment came when Paullin and Han Kok penetrated too deeply without support, and Cantik's rapid counter push resulted in 2-1 from the boot of Johan Herbrant.
There was one more sting to come before the break, this time with Sid as the culprit. Actually, he had dribbled past a couple before the last man on his side stopped him, but a miss was as good as a mile - Cheng-Gong remedied his earlier slip-up with a fantastic ball out of defence, which the ever-alert Nyland finished off into the top of the net.
There were two bad injuries in the second half, the first which came when Israeli Shlomo Peres clashed shins with Han Kok. Han Kok came out no worse for wear, but Peres' small shin guards offered no protection. A suspected hairline fracture means that Peres will play no further part for Cantik this season.
The next to go was Paullin, who got a toecap under his kneecap in the 67th minute. Paullin buckled for a moment but remained standing, though Alcántara would take no chances with his best midfielder already out. Spirig kicked the ball out following Alcántara's frantic hand signals, and Jie Siong came in for the hobbling Swiss.
Grilled somehow gained the upper hand in the final minutes as Cantik appeared to lose energy, and Anders Fredgård
attempted a scorcher from twenty metres which Ovidiu Stanciu denied with a commanding save. No such luck against Ola Martinsson
in the 83rd minute, as the Swede's mindboggling curler from even further out fooled the goalkeeper handily.
Too bad for Grilled, there was no time to continue the assault, and Cantik's Bill Howard might even have put it totally beyond the visitors with a lob that landed on the net.