The Grilled Stay Up
Fourscore And A Season To Go
Intense build-up, but no contest was the story at Gamma Stadium for both sets of fans, who had been streaming in since dawn; A rash of good results had drawn many new initiates, filling Grilled's stands to the seams. Fellow Western side Oei Republic had three unbroken seasons in the ultra-competitive II.2 behind them, but had no answer to newly-risen Grilled Birds and will have to build up in Division Three for a time. A spirited first half settled the issue as Grilled swamped Oei Republic with assertive midfield control, leaving Oei Republic's star performer Per Karlsson was helpless between the sticks.
All eyes may have been on Wilson Kearney
before the game, and debates on how he stood against in-form pacy Swede sweeper Ola Knuttson, and his strong compatriot Jens Fagerby were often heard on the streets. It was Ulf Hjortlind
who fired the first salvo to alert the crowd to his presence, and justified his "wonderkid" tag by catching Knuttson off-guard with a turn to his weak side before picking his spot at Knuttson's right post within ten minutes. Young Oei fullback Li Hock-Chai compounded the misery by hobbling his game with a yellow card from a bad tackle on Hjortlind immediately after, and soon new signing Kearney endeared himself to the Grilled contigent by shaking off Fagerby on the right flank to collect his maiden goal for the club. Aznan Noor Yadah
skipped through Anders Eggstad from the middle to add a third, and Zhan Ju-Hau
rounded up the scoring by throwing himself at a visionary Dai-Lin early ball into the penalty area, just beating Karlsson to it by a foot. Grilled at that point had effectively sealed the win, and while the supporters pointed at the Oei goal for more, crafty coach Bakunin motioned for the team to cool down as the team marched off proudly into the tunnel.
Grilled soldiered on and would have had a fifth from Hjortlind after Zhan Ju-Hau
nearly took Gunnarsson's feet off him, together with the ball. The referee hesitated and played the advantage, and Zhan poked the ball to Ulf, who hit it true for Karlsson to save brilliantly with his legs. Then, a potentially season-changing event happened. Holger Sunesson, Oei's S$2 million transfer from AC 40 Rövare, laid an uncharacteristic high tackle on winger-turned-midfielder Aznan Noor Yadah
in a loose ball situation. Aznan dropped like a sack of potatoes and lay still, and the game was delayed for minutes as paramedics invaded the field. Whispers floated around the stadium as the Malay star was ferried off in a neck brace into a waiting ambulance. Eurasian Asher Stanton
limbered up and made a competent substitute - he almost racked up his second assist with Kearney in as many matches after guiding Tellskär's weak pass onto Kearney's boots. Kearney took an extra stride before striking, and Karlsson maintained an unbreached goalmouth for the second half by using that additional second of time to position himself in the line of fire. The last twenty minutes saw Oei Republic scare Bao-Tam with a spate of forceful dribbling by veteran forward Huang Tse-mach, and only saving tackles spared Bao-Tam having to employ his gloves. The Grilled supporters club staged a rehearsed cheer at the end, but it lacked a certain bite since the best of the game had been in the first half, and also due to the uncertain fate of Aznan Noor Yadah