Go The Reds
Grilled squeaked by Division Three Reds FC by the thinnest of margins, as they recovered from going behind in the 19th minute with two second-half goals in quick succession. The much-maligned Jaan Kadak
was the hero of the night, as he scored the winning goal, and was one of the most active Grilled players before leaving due to injury on the hour mark.
Reds FC, part of the Pai Kia team, began their SCC campaign brightly with a 7-1 thrashing of Sengkang Mariners. In the second round, they drew with Cyco C.F. playing away, but then were beaten 0-4 by Marlboro Reds. Young Au-Yong Ka Pa announced himself with a hattrick for Marlboro in that last game.
The 1700-odd who came for the game probably didn't expect such a tight game, given the crest of optimism that Grilled have been riding ever since Sunday's big win over Team Singapore. It was Reds FC who took the game to the hosts against all expectations, and Alcántara looked rather shaky some seasons removed from regular high-level soccer.
Wily left winger Fong Boon Dong spotted that weakness, and ran at Alcántara every opportunity he got. All 31 years of age, Fong still had some of the speed that made him so feared in his younger days, and carved out a decent opportunity for the equally old Gan Ling-Lai. Unfortunately Ling-Lai waited too long to pull the trigger, and he was robbed by Bona.
Grilled then launched their own raid down the left, as Kadak continued his tireless off-the-ball runs. Given space to roam with an Olaru pass down the line, he looked up and saw several green shirts in the Reds FC box. Kadak sent a head-high flat cross over, which was attacked by Borup. The Danish lad got the merest of contacts, and his powerless header was quickly cleared out for a throw-in.
There was no shortage of chances for Grilled, as first Hjortlind and then Bukhari spurned excellent openings. Hjortlind wriggled free of Estonian wingback Eduard Pärna and had only Jon Daler to beat, but he trickled the ball straight to the 19 year-old Swedish goalkeeper.
Bukhari fared no better when he was set free by a visionary through pass by Jie Siong, as he ran too fast to keep control and belatedly shunted his shot wide of the gaping goal.
Then the contest was turned on its head by Pärna, who covered a lot of ground on a Reds FC counterstrike. Too many of Grilled's players were slow to return from attacking, and Pärna was left with Alcántara to settle with. The two oldies tussled for a moment, then Grilled's captain fell - but no foul was given. Pärna continued right on and tapped it past Bao-Tam, who was caught in two minds whether to protest.
More bad news followed soon after, as Lee Jie Siong
caught his foot in a divot. The rainy weather had played merry hell with Grilled's pitch, which was due for a turf replacement right after the match. Han Kok was more than willing to substitute in for his younger comrade, and soon injected more order into Grilled's midfield.
Fifty minutes into the game, Grilled's equaliser finally arrived. Captain-coach Alcántara, who had been underperforming badly in the first half, displayed great awareness by following up on Han Kok's swirling long shot. Daler spilled the spinning ball, and the Argentinean defender capitalised on his mistake.
Reds FC were caught reeling, and Kadak preyed on their sudden vulnerability by scoring a quick follow-up. There were two men ahead of him when he ran onto a forward pass by the increasingly dominant Han Kok, but he lost them both with his terrific balance and found the inside of the post with a surgical strike.
It was to be his last contribution to the game, as he got onto the wrong end of Boon Dong's feet in the sixtieth minute. The many Grilled players who ran up were adamant that it deserved more than a yellow, as Kadak would clearly be unable to continue. Yellow it was, however, and the crowd clapped both for the hardworking Kadak and his replacement, the ageless Tim Hobson
Grilled had one more notable chance, and it came through Ulf Hjortlind
, who timed his sprint just right. His connection with the ball moments later was nothing to boast about, as he followed through too much and sent the ball deep into the gallery behind the goal.