Grilled recorded a confidence-boosting victory at The Cooking Pot against league favourites Arrogancae, but the 4-3 win was blemished by yet another loosening of the reins by the players, who were 4-0 up at one point. The supporters were carried through the difficult ending by the earlier heroic exploits of Chow Ying Lee
, though, whose natural hat-trick by the 25th minute was one of the most incredible individual feats seen at The Pot for some time, and shot him to the head of the top scorers' table.
Arrogance were without key midfielder Pan Dawei for the meeting, after he tweaked his ankle in the national team's 1-1 draw against Barbados. Spanish wing maestro Raúl Álvarez Collado remained out, having taken a knock to his knee against heium XI last week, but the visitors still had an embarassment of riches in midfield, not the least among them former Chicken Wings standout Zhao Jing Wei.
Grilled were still shaky mentally after their Cup defeat, and the team clearly hadn't taken Niculae Stanca
's reprimands to heart as they conceded possession to Arrogancae without much of a fight. Only Dexter Stacey
's reflexes kept the Birds from going down in the fourth minute as Jure Sviben rushed through unheeded, and head coach and goalie were united in screaming at the rest of the team.
They quietened up in the 7th minute, as Chow Ying Lee
dragged the ball with him and flashed it past Italian goalie Massimo Cazzulati. The Birds were not out of the woods yet, however, and only quick thinking on the part of Lin Jungui
cut out a low cross from the left aimed at Zhao, who would surely have converted had it gotten to him.
Grilled were getting better at this trading of blows, and that near-miss was again followed by a Chow special, as the 23 year-old Number Ten held off former national defender Mohd Aiman Wong bin Kassim in a footrace, and slammed the ball across goal and home.
The Birds perhaps did not deserve to be two-nil up, but judging from the response of the home crowd, they were thoroughly enjoying themselves. The lead caused much of the players' doubt to melt off, and it was Grilled's turn to have Arrogancae pegged back. Zhu Changchun
drove in a magnificent long-range effort in the 22nd minute, which Cazzulati punched off his line in equally showstopping fashion.
Chow made certain that the day was about him, again three minutes after the last event, though his third was by far the easiest of all - Seytek Djekshenkulov
contributed the mazy dribble and Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
drew away the defenders, leaving Chow to walk the ball in at his leisure.
The din that echoed about the stadium will probably not be replicated for some time, as the fans soaked in the joy of being three up at half-time against the Cup champions. It almost couldn't get better, but it did, as defender Lin Jungui
burnished his excellent stint at the back with a speculative poke that crept in.
Lesser teams might have crumbled at being 4-0 down, but Arrogancae were made of sterner stuff. Coach Mauro Bagazgoitia had seen enough, and he pulled the ineffective Girolamo Viola off for Meng Yunbin, called "Aventador" by his fans. The Birds didn't help themselves by tapering off, thinking the game was won, and Stanca compounded the problem by taking the impressive Slavcho Tzonkov
off for a barely match-ready Walter Ross
Grilled had escaped several close shaves, and it was perhaps only right that one of them would go in. Turkish striker Azer Selışıl benefitted from the arrival of the Aventador, whose magic pass in the 74th minute was the best produced by his team for the entire match. Selışıl, free of the defence, did the rest to make it 4-1.
The Birds' cohesiveness suffered further when Stanca substituted the hobbling Zhu Changchun
in the 75th minute, and although Alex Fonseca
rifled in a decent effort on his entry, his overall play was poor, and the visitors took advantage to treat themselves to another goal through Lachezar Stefanov after biding their time.
Things were getting seriously dicey as Arrogancae looked a good bet to score again, and this they did in the 86th minute, with Mohd Aiman Wong bin Kassim meeting a corner kick perfectly to propel a header out of Stacey's reach. Stanca was by now out of his dugout and gesticulating wildly at his players, and fortunately for all concerned, the Birds held on till the final whistle for the win.