Hairil Restores Honour
Team Geylang posted a second consecutive sweep of their SCC opponents to put themselves in the driving seat, in the run-up to the final round. The You Have A Choice fivesome would have come out without a goal to their credit, but Sengkang Mariners' dynamic midfielder Hairil Zamri bin Mohammed Noor saved their blushes with a last-gasp wonder kick from midfield.
Undefeated in eleven competitive matches since getting an early cup boot by bettyboop, the Mariners were not shy in fielding a 3-4-3. Their fans were delighted by the soaking downpour too, which according to conventional wisdom would help to level the playing field.
Tough as nails local defender Han Chi Xin welcomed the rain, and got down and dirty more than once with well-timed tackles on Jaan Kadak
that splattered the S$6.3 million Estonian import. Unfortunately Quah was barely slowed by the muddy ground, hefting in the opener by the 20th minute and riling up the Mariners' supporters by celebrating in front of their section.
Sengkang's eighteen year-old striker Song Kaiyan wasn't on his best behaviour either, as he refused to release the ball for the restart until the referee reprimanded Han Kok. Ordering an official around is high on the list of silly things a soccer player can attempt, and Song was himself cautioned for his folly.
Thirty-nine minutes had passed when Sid incurred a freak injury. While wrapping his lethal right boot around a free-kick that sailed over the bar, he pulled a muscle and fell helplessly on his other knee. That was the end of the game for him as he could not even manage to stand, entailing Lan Tuan-Mu
Ironically Sid's departure galvanised the Birds, and in the few minutes left before half-time, Fabian Bona
and Ulf Hjortlind
sped at will through the home side's defence to put Grilled 3-0 up.
Kadak was selfish in his handling of Bukhari's inswinging cross in the 63rd minute, wasting a difficult header as Hjortlind threw up his hands in despair, being in a much better position. Xia Dov-Ber was up to that one, but he was found wanting ten minutes later when Kadak's piercing strike bulged his net without opposition.
Grilled's mission was accomplished, and Dani Spirig
scored an indulgent goal as he brusquely shoulder-charged a Mariners defender, collected the now-free ball and tapped it past an incredulous Xia for Grilled's fifth. Bona, known as a conservative sweeper, then sent a decent effort twenty metres into the side netting.
The goal of the match must belong to the hosts, though, as their Hairil Zamri bin Mohammed Noor shocked Hang Bao-Tam
with precision gunnery from just outside the center circle. Even Hjortlind's instant reply couldn't take the shine off that glittering moment, which changed the entire mood inside the stadium by itself.