Bluedragon hoodwinked Grilled with a no-nonsense 5-3-2 defence in a bid to gain their first points, and were good bets for the derby pennant when Aznan Noor Yadah
reached into his legs for his superlative speed to blow them away.
Bluedragon had not been happy campers in the S-League, having lost their five matches so far by at least three goals. Any thoughts thay they would continue to be easy pickings were dispelled when they lined up with five defenders for the Western showpiece that positively screamed resolution. Edu Irvan and Gai Wai-Ming had departed long ago, but with Zeng Ciang-Sien coming in the opposite direction from Herron and Indonesian master Frangky Manaf staying, Bluedragon assembled a team around them that outpaced FC Tenochtitlán and FC GBR for the Division II.1 crown.
Neither made them the first team to score first on Grilled this season, as imposing Australian midfielder Anthony Sugden did it. Grilled's offence lost out on the ball, and a weighted clearance cut Grilled's backline to bits. Sugden applied the finishing touch superbly.
Grilled could not be faulted for failing to attack, as they were soundly repelled by Bluedragon's complement of rear men. Early chances fell to players not suited to taking them, as captain Luis Alcántara
socked the crossbar with just Britisher Jamie Jeremy between him and the net, and defensive midfielder Shen Kek-Tjiang
too found wood after surprise inclusion Lorenz Paullin
saw him clear.
Not all of Grilled's players were doing their utmost, although Au-Yong Siu-Yue
was certainly not among their number. Turning out with a bandaged forehead, courtesy of the full-blooded clash at home to Team Singapore, he relentlessly tracked opponents and put them off their balance. One running duel with Monte Farrington ended with both men on the grass and the referee had to come in to seperate the two. After Siu-Yue's booking, Jan Langeland
let Grilled down again when a promising run petered out into a attempt that came almost as an afterthought.
Half-time saw Frangky Manaf replaced with understudy Qiu Kah-Wei, with the undisputed focal point of the team handing over the captain's armband to Farrington to applause. Manaf was explained to have suffered a recurrance of an old heel injury. The loss of the team's heart hurt Bluedragon's spirit, and their threatening counterstrikes wore out. Martinsson tried an interesting approach eleven minutes into the half, and was only stopped by Fredrik Wennborn's quick thinking.
Bluedragon were strained by their unfamiliar shape. Central defender Thomas Bokland got a yellow card for unfairly restraining Jan Langeland
, a booking that will see him out of next Sunday's game against FC RaZer Infernus. Belgian midfielder John Roux overstretched in a good tackle, but continued after a cold spray. Determined to maintain their unlikely lead, Bluedragon withdrew deep, and were at last punished.Aznan Noor Yadah
's previous runs had mostly been abortive tries, but he started to outdo assigned wingback Johan Magnusson on a consistent basis. The flanks had been left sparsely defended, and Aznan began to show his true pace in the burning sun. With the fullbacks falling back, he traced a path to Ola Martinsson
who had found himself some room. Two touches, and Grilled were back in the game.
Knowing that more of the same could work as Bluedragon had few ready answers, the Grilled midfield directed their passes to Noor Yadah, who engaged Magunsson in one-sided speed duels. Langeland knocked on the doors with a scrappy effort that Jeremy stayed alert to, and Aznan elevated himself to man of the day with wonderful acceleration followed by an absolute flier before anyone could close him down. The goalie could only watch as the shot bent to bulge the net.
The last ten minutes saw Bluedragon belatedly come out of their shell to earn something for their suffering fans. Zeng Ciang-Sien couldn't muster a shot on goal without back-up, and Grilled widened the lead when two players obstructed Bona in the penalty box. Martinsson placed the ball on the spot, and did the necessary without fanfare. A yellow card for heckling Bokland after a challenge sullied his brace, but it was beyond old rivals Bluedragon by then.