Grilled did everything right but still had to troop off The Cooking Pot with nothing to show for their endeavour, as the reigning champions showed just how they managed to attain that title with well-taken twin strikes when they counted.
With Chemistry having famously declared the end of their title challenge going into this game, Grilled found themselves in the unfamiliar position of being prohibitive favourites against the champions, with home advantage factored in. They appeared good value for that as they threatened the visitors' goal from the beginning, and appeared to have that extra bit all over the pitch.
Unfortunately for Grilled, Rotteveel had left his scoring boots in the locker room, as the usually dependable striker consipired to let two good opportunities get away. His first effort was actually commendable, as he spun around like a top to whip a shot out of nowhere onto the crossbar. Subri tried to get on the end of the rebound, but would always be second best against a goalkeeper's reach.Dani Spirig
proved to be a worthy replacement for the rested van Liere, and his stop-start move to get past Oh Dong Tse was certainly reminiscent of the Dutch wing wizard. Only Rotteveel can explain why he tried to hit Spirig's glorious first-time ball on the fly instead of bringing it down to tap in at his leisure, but the fact is that he completely missed the cross and the chance to put Grilled in the driving seat.
It didn't seem to matter so much at that point as Grilled were still dictating play in midfield, but then they were hit by a double whammy.
First, Scottish midfielder John MacKinnon
got a heel in the knee when rushing to a loose ball, and had to limp off. Liehner had no option but to throw Lim Chuan Jing
into the deep end as van Liere was still not fully fit, and though the young midfielder tried hard it was apparent that he could not function at this level yet.
To make matters worse, Grilled conceded when they tried to calm the game down after the replacement. Bona tried a routine cross-field pass to Sid, but this time the move was read by the canny Tunisian national forward Mohamed El Boubakri. Switching to first gear with astonishing acceleration, the 25 year-old blew past Han Lik-Tsun
to deposit the ball past Beckman.
That would have been a bearable setback, had Grilled not been deflated by going two down right from the restart. They had looked to be back on level terms with a massive push straight from the whistle, but were instead caught short-handed at the back. The crowd could only look on helplessly as Chemistry expertly dissected the undermanned backline with the experienced Oh Dong Tse delivering the final blow.
It would always be difficult to come back from this point on, but at least Grilled tried their level best. Quah Han Kok
evened the odds somewhat when he clattered heavily into veteran Indian ex-international Michael Bryant, which earned a caution but forced Chemistry's skipper off.
Despite that, Chemistry were too well-trained to succumb to Grilled's increasingly desperate gambits, as the hosts felt the absence of Hidde van Liere
acutely. Without a truly creative spark to unlock the opposition, Grilled found their attacks breaking down harmlessly, and could even have gone further behind as Mohamed El Boubakri lobbed onto the bar from a rapid counter.
Grilled were thrown a glimmer of hope when Han Lik-Tsun
scrambled home a messy goal after Brúnó Lantos could only push away a commanding strike from Subri, but that proved to be insufficient as Chemistry held on for the precious three points.