Grilled Birds 2 - 1 Los Gatos United
Tournament (Playoffs), Season 8502 October 2023 10:30 HTT
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Grilled Birds
Los Gatos United
Chan Ze Han (86)
Enrique Baena (87)
Jurjan Spithoven (33)

Gatos Get Lazy
Chan Their Baena

Grilled Birds were hurtling out of the Round of 32 in the September Tournament, when they would rock American IV.53 opponents Los Gatos United with a killer combination finish, four minutes from the end. The Californian club had the Birds mostly dancing to their tune before that as they set on their first-half lead, but head coach Teobaldo Gaitán will surely now be regretting not instructing his team to go for the jugular, when they had ample opportunities to do so.
The radiant sun and high temperatures were no stranger to either side, as they sized each other up in a wary first ten minutes. Kyrgyzstan forward Mikhail Kamushkin was perhaps Gatos' biggest draw alongside Polish skipper Florian Parylak, although fullback was another particular strength of their, what with the local pair of Jason Sutcliffe and Gregg Rodrigues always ready to drive them hard down the flanks. Against this, Tian Yonghang fielded basically a plausible starting league lineup, stating that Chad Thach and Chia Kwang Tse had more or less recovered their form just in time for the season break.

It would be Rodrigues to earn the first corner of the match about eleven minutes in, after outpacing Enrique Baena and forcing Damian Hutter into a frazzled block at the corner flag. Gatos would have about six men in the penalty area for the delivery, which had Paolo Lucarini knock Juan Fernando Melipichun's knockdown just wide, on a blind first touch. Grilled would gain possession some twenty yards from the Gatos goal after a long goal kick, and Orest Tokarz took it on himself after plenty of shielding, only to also drive it inches past Ethiopian goalkeeper Derej Selemon Ayele's near post under the close watch of Juan Fernando Melipichun.

From how Gatos revealed few weaknesses against the best that Grilled could fling at them, this was likely going to be a tight game decided by a flash of genius. Enrique Baena was hardly going to be prudish at submitting his application for such, and his spectacular off-balance volley on the go would force a flying save from Ayele, with Joe Reece not getting enough on the ball when it zoomed at him. Gatos would then claim the opener in the 33rd minute, with Dutch playmaker Jurjan Spithoven guiding a low cross by Dalibor Řezníček past Germanakos.

That felt like a strangely routine strike after the several past inventions from both sides, but good value for 1-0 in any case. Gaitán appeared to have plans for this, and Gatos would sit deeper in inviting Grilled to go at them. Their lowered block and three-man backline would be exceedingly efficient, and Gandhik Chitre's entry for a less-than-impressive Chad Thach at half-time scarcely made more of a dent against a very canny Spithoven in midfield.

The minutes ticked away with the Birds not able to worry Ayele unduly, and after seventy minutes, it was the turn of Chia to make way for Lim An Keng. That did shake the status quo up some, and two minutes later Orest Tokarz would be put through by Enrique Baena down the left, but he could not get it under control before the angle worked impossibly against him. Jurjan Spithoven would be one of the main factors in Gatos breaking play down before it reached their box, but he would finally be unable to escape a booking in the 75th, for one shirt-tug too many.

It seemed a lost cause by the time Joe Reece exited for Chan Ze Han with just five minutes remaining, but the Americans would soon discover the legend of the man for themselves. Not having touched the ball yet, Chan would drift almost aimlessly into the Gatos penalty area as Federico Parada teased Sutcliffe down the right, and there seemed little enough danger when both Chan and Dalibor Řezníček converged upon Parada's attempted pass. Chan's little stutter-step at the end bought him the extra foot of space he wanted, however, and his next swing would scoop it just over Ayele's vertical reach, and drop it right into the far end of goal.

That was yet another incredible - and important - finish to add to Chan's considerable collection, and with this went much of Gatos' resolve. They had been ahead for so long that extra time probably felt inconveivable to them, and Enrique Baena would grant their wish in this respect. The Spaniard followed up on Chitre's through ball that had no business making it through, but it did, and he polished it off. Phua Ming Xin then had a brilliant curler in injury time, but Ayele was equal to that.

    Oto Outdo Birds
    Bobby Takes Heart
    Pancho Punchout
    Gatos Get Lazy
    Hidden Weapon
    No Luck Involved
    Farmed To Safety
    The Unforgotten Man
    Got Sorted Out
    No Carping On Trip
2016-08-01 00:37:41
anonymous: Thanks for the special mention :) I would just like to expre...
2015-08-17 18:50:02
anonymous: excellent read as always!- Yjorn
2015-06-13 03:08:41
anonymous: Rasha say
2014-12-14 16:56:39
gilbertlim: well, it seemed like that.
2014-12-12 18:26:33
anonymous: I didn't play a 4-5-2
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