A suitably tight match against Herron was decided by winger Richard Ashton's breakaway goal, as he lingered on the shoulder of Fredgård just waiting for the right second to pounce. Shu Chit-Fu gave the S-League's most successful club an early lead, which was negated by Kek-Tjiang after the break.
Grilled's fears were realised as a bout of flu left star striker Jaan Kadak
wobbly, while van Liere, Grilled's other major attacking source, was under the weather. Spurred on by the partisan fans, Shen tried to carry the toothless frontline and got forward magnificently in the seventh minute. Hungarian fullback Gábor Peto couldn't hold him off, but Kek-Tjiang's rather soft last touch rolled wide with Mohd Nadzir having it covered.
Richard Ashton then began his one-man quest to irritate the Grilled defence, as he kept hanging as far upfield as he could without getting offside. Fredgård found it hard to beat the lanky Ashton to high balls from afar, and the Aussie proved difficult to dispossess once on the ball.
It was one such string of events that led to Ashton delivering a crossfield punt, and though it was hit really too hard for comfort, a forward of Chit-Fu's calibre was not going to miss out at the far post. The ex-national striker sent himself feet-first at the cross, and barely sent it into goal as even Sulaiman was dumbfounded.
It was entertaining stuff to say the least, and van Liere was at his best for brief flickers of time. He got himself into the right place to receive a no-look pass from Martinsson, but cleared the crossbar with a hasty strike. Another attempt was headed for the top corner completely out of the blue, but Mohd Nadzir had seen it all and prevented even a corner.
Sulaiman had his own incredible save off Chit-Fu late in the half, as Bona lost concentration and allowed the lightning-fast player-coach to slide into a low cross. French defender Barthélémy Boulant was roundly booed for his excessive tackle on Kadak, which got him cautioned, but Martinsson, setup by van Liere from the free-kick, thumped his effort into a defender.
Grilled were not in want of possession, and they got their first home goal off Kek-Tjiang in the 58th minute. It took heavy support from van Liere, but the Dutch dangerman's presence bought the Singaporean enough space to make good a convincing drive from the edge of the six-yard box. Mohd Nadzir flung an arm up, but the shot was already past him.
There was to be no happy ending for the Birds, unfortunately, as their deficiencies upfront were glaring. Kadak was white in the face for the last half an hour, but being thin on the bench, Grilled had no real alternative against a top backline. Ashton then latched onto a thirty-metre ball launched from midfield to buy Herron their first victory of the new season.