Another Western derby saw Division Four club NiteRovers restrict Grilled Birds to a 0-3 win, in what the club billed as only their second ever match against an S-League outfit. That bit of marketing drew close to five thousand fans to their 70000-seater Ad Astra, a significant turnout for an all-local friendly.
The final score was not exactly stellar for the hosts, but it happened to be Last Minute's slimmest margin of defeat. Team Geylang, despite playing away, pulled out all the stops, and scored a total of 31 goals against zero
. This feat became less impressive on further inspection, since Club Sentosa similarly got a 20-0 aggregate against the SCC cellar dwellers.
NiteRovers followed Kampung United's lead in utilizing a 5-3-2 formation, no doubt encouraged by the fact that Bolivian import Manolo Rosado and Austrian signing Sebastian Langer have both blossomed since their arrival some four seasons ago. Just the right side of twenty, the duo would not look out of place even two divisions higher up.
With Norwegian Ferdinand Isdal and Dutchman Delano Kampstra rated just a shade behind Rosado and Langer, it would seem that NiteRovers had a decent chance of keeping Grilled scoreless. Their young goalkeeper Ahmad Shahrul Azhar bin Nik was clueless, however, and fluffed his first test when Kadak lofted a tame ball towards goal.
Ahmad Shahrul was firstly miles off his line, but the lob was really no good and he should still have caught it had he not missed his jump. The defenders had already done their job by restricting Kadak to a poor shot, but none of that mattered to Kadak, who was just glad to have picked up the striking habit again.
Respected 31 year-old midfielder Guan Yo-ichi, who found his place in NiteRovers after a transfer from now-defunct Changi side Mt Sinai Gryphon in his mid-twenties, then bent a joint too far while changing direction suddenly. He looked totally disappointed to leave so early, but warmly grasped the hand of aging Uruguayan substitute Enrique Gómez.
Han Kok was a real dervish down the left, and should have won a couple of assists had Isdal not persistently stuck to the ex-U-20 winger like glue. The passing lanes were too often choked completely, and Sid collected the first yellow card of the night by knocking down playmaker Roger Eriksen.
Langer's only mistake in the game led to Grilled's second goal in the 52nd minute. He didn't spot Bukhari Abd Hamid
breaking down the right flank when he advanced on Rottman in the middle, and the just-recovered Swiss midfielder instantly got a through pass off. Bukhari didn't have much trouble with the inexperienced goalie, simply holding his shot until Ahmad Shahrul committed himself to a jump.
The poor keeper had even less of a chance after central defender Jordi Puig hauled Hjortlind down in the penalty area. It was a clear-cut penalty, and Sid didn't sweat it at all. Probably noting that nothing special was called for, he rammed it in by the book - hard and low to the right side.
Spirig then got rightly dismissed for a bad, bad tackle on Rosado whilst trying to steal the ball. Grilled had relaxed a lot by that time, and in the final moments NiteRovers pressed for a morale-boosting consolation goal. English forward Manny Tinkler provided a telling lob that pierced Grilled's lax defence, but his Canadian partner Herschel Hall was already moving in the wrong direction, wasting NiteRovers' best opportunity.