Stage Right Pies
CharlesCheesePie's remarkable eleven season-long stay in II.2 finally came to a close, after they were outdone 2-0 by former S-League runners-up Young Tigers, coming up from III.6. The Tigers may not have many of the stars that fuelled that challenge, but in Zülfikâr Ayaydın and Evdokim Telichkin they have midfield strength enough to threaten any side in the league. CCP had been champions just two seasons ago, and who could have foreseen that a dip in fortunes would see them fall prey to the Big Cats?
The Pies had spent the last fortnight preparing for this showdown, having more or less given up their game against JUtd, but the Tigers pounced too strongly for the veterans. Finnish winger Stefan Rådman placed them ahead with his flashing feet, and Ayaydın followed suit either side of bone-crunching fouls by the pair. Quirze Sans was Rådman's victim, and was lucky not to have his career ended by that scything tackle.
Leading by example, the fierce Rådman didn't slow down, and nearly headed another in, before being sent off in the 63rd minute. The man advantage led to Silviu Iancu and Manfredo Noriega putting in impressive efforts for the Pies, but French keeper Michaël Hautin managed enough in all these cases to throw the shooters off.
Chow Ying Lee
, who watched the match in person, was nostalgic at CharlesCheesePie's departure. "We have played them for so many times, that not visiting See Mee Lan Park will feel wrong. I don't think they will stay down for long, given the quality that they have. That said, Young Tigers probably deserved to win it, and I can't wait to face Hautin!"
Rapala's bid to ascend to the S-League got derailed as Tanglin Winners FC beat them by the same scoreline, again with a double strike early in the first half. The Fishermen had their chances, but after He Wenyang hit the post in the ninth minute, they appeared to lose some composure in front of goal.
SpartanSG too stay after dismissing Wee Li'l Lads 3-0, as the visitors were arguably more threatening when they had the ball, but simply didn't see enough of it. Up-and-coming midfielder Lin Lai Pin took charge at The Kherubim, putting his side ahead with an angled strike in the 28th minute, before Joachim November and Shaiful Bahri bin Ahmad Rosdi confirmed the win.
SKF F.C. and Zambree FC replace the team that never was and Robbie Football Club respectively, and other than having the same club colours, this marks the first time that either have been to the Second Division, though they are no less dangerous for that. While Zambree lean defensive, they have done well against the likes of BDSM FC, Team Singapore and Dream Seals, and will pin their hopes on the Spanish pair of José Pozuelo and Soriano Espel, the latter even racking up an astonishing 30 goals in the just-concluded campaign.
SKF F.C. for their part bested Siegmund United to claim the III.4 title, and are known for having few weaknesses. Coach Álvaro Carretto has moulded a side that has not been bested competitively for an entire season, with the single blot against them inflicted by Scallop Soccer Team in the Cup. While Iranian Number Six Younes Zare may be leaving, the 25 year-old László Dunavölgyi is more than ready to take command in midfield, with local skipper Che Harun bin Omar once more posing a threat down the right.