Gunnar Guns Down Birds
Swedish sweeper Gunnar Nissbo compensated for the day's defensive frailties with a thumping volley to earn Chinablack a 3-2 win. The dark blue of Chinablack's home tops filled the stands as the home fans expressed their support in the opening match of the season, between the two newly promoted sides of the league. Any points gained from this game would prove to be important looking at the standard of teams in Division Two. Chinablack's two towering aerial threats of Ökvist and Papoutsis served up warnings with headers on target, and Papoutsis blew a great chance when he could not connect cleanly when left open. Håkan Ökvist relied on his feet when Viliami Turner whacked a high ball to him, and Bao-Tam failed to guard his near post tightly. Grilled wasted no time in restarting the game, and Chen Chiew-Yen
cancelled out Ökvist's goal in the same minute as none other than Noor Yadah sped up to strike a cross for him to head in unchallenged. Chinablack were dismayed for a moment only as Per Frostenfeldt sent fans to their feet with a masterly overlapping move which saw him pass a hesitant Tuan-Mu and Alcántara. He then positioned the ball into the bottom right of the net with verve worthy of a striker. Grilled again swung back into action, but managed no reply even as Joe Stern
forced Nissbo off the ball legally. There was a mad dash towards the Chinablack goal then by the majority of the players, but even as Stern got a foot in his attempt was blocked by Guzmán, and the Chinablack defence came in to hit the ball out of play. Goal scorer Frostenfeldt got booked for a bone-crunching challenge on Stanton late in the half, and for this the referee was booed soundly by the home fans on a high.
Quick thrusts and parries were the order of the day as Grilled went for the jugular from the second kick-off, and were rewarded for their pressing attack as centerback Lan Tuan-Mu
broke away from the main body of players to garner a loose ball. He then rolled the ball over the goalline at his leisure as Chinablack's Guzmán was preoccupied on the other side of the goalmouth. Now aware of each others' capabilities, the sides settled into a more tactical waiting game. Grilled Birds turned out to be the first to blink, as Chinablack's Oceanian trainee Turner brought the middle under his dominion and let loose a number of surges. On one of these Chinablack's loyal winger Shi Fei-wen skipped past Dewilde and cut a pass in for the roving Gunnar Nissbo to dump past Bao-Tam. Grilled frantically fought back, and Håkan Ökvist brought down Chiew-Yen roughly. He was lucky to escape with a caution as Chiew-Yen had to be carried off for a two-week sabbathatical. Grilled appeared to have snatched a draw in the 86th minute as Joe Stern
went alone against Chinablack's Chilean keeper Eduardo Alaín Guzmán, but Guzmán emerged Chinablack's saviour as he went low like a flash to keep Stern's shot out.