Losers No More
Facing Winning Eleven in their own stadium is probably the hardest task available for any Singaporean team at this point of time, and Grilled were tipped to embark on a three-game losing spree and be plunged into the same mid-season slump that afflicted them the last time. Also, Grilled had never beaten Winning Eleven in their six previous encounters stretching back to season three.
Convinced that three men at the back would be madness, Alcántara extended his hand to Lan Tuan-Mu
, dropping him alongside Bona in the centre of defence. Troubled forward Jan Langeland
sat the game out for the Singaporean defender. Winning Eleven had the elan of a team that had won thirteen of their last fifteen matches, with transfer-listed Polish ex-international Bogumil Sulecki pulling the first attempt of the game inches wide. Captain-coach Luis Alcántara
had the game stopped for several minutes as he had trainers attend to a twisted ankle, and the break did calm the Grilled squad down.
Whether the stoppage was intended or not, Grilled did emerge more composed and took a shock lead. With much of the game bogged down in midfield, Kek-Tjiang's rushed clearance plopped near where Bona was. Unaccustommed to his advanced spot, the defender now thanked his lucky stars as he wagered on breaking past the last man. The defender did take his simple feint, and Bona sank Winning Eleven with a compelling finisher.
Winning Eleven were then deprived of their second key man, as striker Nikos Avramidis, capped 27 times for Greece, did not reappear on the field in the second half. Word went out that he had impacted his sole badly, so old Swedish warhorse Patrik Persson had to replace him.
Sniffing at a priceless upset, the Grilled back four rose to the occassion. Fabian Bona
led his elders with tireless running, still on the adrenaline high from the first goal. Ola Martinsson
then supplied a bolt from the blue, waffling over thirty metres out before catching Pinchetti out with a fast-paced half-lob. Martinnson himself had hardly believed that he had pulled that off when he was smothered by his outfielders.
Winning Eleven's home supporters were not happy at being headed towards a consecutive home defeat, and with three men up they were always dangerous. Substitute Patrik Persson's quick feet saw him past Tuan-Mu, and Harlow needed something special to get behind the missile coming from Johan Mouritsen. Grilled never really settled that attack and in minutes Hans Hjorting returned with a neat grounder that eluded Harlow. It was not enough.