|Season 51||L||4 - 1||Tournament (Group Phase)|
|Season 50||L||0 - 6||Tournament (Group Phase)|
Chow On Song
The Birds went some way towards putting their spotty league form aside with their first victory over Scallop Soccer Team, in a thoroughly engrossing 6-4 that was far closer than the two-goal margin suggests. Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
's worrying indifference carried on, and this time it was Chow Ying Lee
who delivered a hat-trick in his favourite tournament.
waved aside concerns about recovery as he picked the same team that played yesterday, ostensibly to allow them to redeem themselves. That looked unlikely for a while as the navy-shirted Scallops again put Grilled on the backfoot with the sheer ferocity of their attacking intent, with Portuguese winger Élton Figueirinha marking his return to the lineup by burning past Ling Fuquan
and feeding Alex Papp to shuffle it in effortlessly by the fourth minute.
Ling accepted his captain's advice with a bashful wave of the hand, and the one-time Chicken Wings golden boy sat back obediently as the Birds withdrew in depth. This state of affairs lasted for twenty minutes, until three snappy passes out of defence saw Abdul bin Jantan
doubling up in the middle, and he eventually came away with the ball in a cloud of boots to pass it calmly past Claudio Fasani.
Israeli forward Tuval Machnes was eager to make up for lost time after Kang Xi Lai Le's Rolf Knutsen put him out for nearly three weeks, and he duly bagged four in his comeback against L1verpool yesterday; if that had depleted his goal supply, he still had aggression enough to spare, clattering his shoulder into Qassem Madaini
without hesitation. It was too much for referee Niu Jialiang, who came running up with a yellow card immediately.
Machnes' energy resulted directly in Scallop taking the lead again, as he dragged Grilled's entire wide defence out of position before slipping it back in for Veljko Milanić to take advantage of. Unfortunately, his industry hadn't rubbed off on all his teammates, and Tian Yonghang
equalised right from the kick-off as none of the defenders were willing to get too close to his flashing feet, giving him an opening to strike at.
Grilled then finally went up against Scallop after 212 minutes of football between the sides, with Chow Ying Lee
's acceleration breaking their centrebacks' coverage fair and square. Stanisław Śmiech had never been too comfortable against the quick type, and it was all over once Chow cut ahead of him.
Secure in the knowledge that a point would be sufficient, the Birds slowed down a couple of beats for the second half, though Chow still managed a near-miss in the 60th minute thanks to one of Mohd Safri's only good touches of the game. Fasani somehow arched backwards to punch the blazing half-volley over, making a save he had absolutely no right to make.
The minutes passed by uneventfully, although few would have put it past Scallop to level things up, with Lee Ze Shi never giving up, and Paul Pattrick Teckenburg perpetually one step from giving Madaini the run-around. At the other end, Mohd Safri remained sadly anonymous, and even Stanca ran out of patience by the 80th minute, ordering his underperforming star out and the bouncing Leong Wan Kang
in. It was a statement in itself that Mohd Safri made no move to complain, and accepted his fate meekly.
The change paid dividends almost immediately, with Leong charging about like an unleashed dog, and the chaos he caused resulted in a rushed attempted pass out wide that was picked off by Tian. Already well over twenty goals for the season, Tian was in no doubt as to what he had to do, and lured Fasani to commit himself expertly before skipping by on the inside.
That was the signal for Shiya Shaahee
to come on, and substitution brought immediate reward once more. Abdul bin Jantan
hadn't threatened big Boye Stolle much for a long while, but a fresh Shaahee was quite another beast, and Stolle simply could not keep pace with the new guy. Nor Śmiech against Chow when the pass came in, and Grilled were going into the semi-finals in style.
Or would they? Teckenburg, who had so tormented Grilled earlier in the season, kept heart, and some half-hearted tackling meant that he managed to dribble into the box past three Grilled players. lu Zunwen
finally came in with a proper challenge, but the ball got only as far as Lee Ze Shi, who instinctively chipped Edmund Kryus
The lead still seemed quite safe, all the more as Machnes received a slightly silly second yellow after reacting badly to a call that probably wrongly went against him. He would be cheering from the sidelines after Teckenburg again donned the mantle of nemesis by delivering a telegraphed cross for Alex Papp to nod in delicately with a skilful twist of his neck, however, and a draw was not out of the question despite there being only two minutes left in regulation.
In the end, it was Chow who finally slammed the door shut, as he single-handedly cut through a brave but overworked Śmiech for the third time, securing the match ball at last gasp.