Reserves Fall Short
Kuwaiti side Storm Q8 won this clash of second division teams with perfect league records, as they rocked the Birds by going four up by half time, only for Grilled to fall just short with a comeback that has begun to become a trademark after heartbeat Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
entered the fray for the second half. The forwards-playing-midfield had little clue before that, and the front three only gelled under Mohd Safri's intense supervision.
Grilled started with Walter Ross
, who has yet shown little sign of being concerned that his career here may be coming to an end, captain at the back. Possible long-term replacements Liang Liyong
and Ling Fuquan
were stationed in midfield together with Chow Ying Lee
and Tian Yonghang
, with Seytek Djekshenkulov
, who had not featured on Sunday, as the only true middleman among the lot.
Storm Q8 had the want-away Romanian striker Gergő Barnabás here to strut his stuff, and he had a cordial chat with countryman Niculae Stanca
, coaching in place of the ill Luis Alcantara, before the game. Hardworking 21 year-old Dominik Ruszczyński, who has been playing two matches a week for the past month, partnered Barnabás, while regular centreback Thys Bentein made an appearance too.
The visitors wasted no time in pressuring Grilled, who found it hard to keep their shape in the face of the persistent onslaught. Ruszczyński suggested an old head on young shoulders when he jostled his way ahead of Ross to set himself nicely in case Barnabás' lob came off the crossbar, which it did, but Dan Seng
's reflexes saved him on this second attempt.
That barely slowed Storm Q8, and Hilal Bakhtiar
was on thin ice after giving up a yellow card to prevent Barnabás from getting a free run on Seng, but it was impossible to deny the irrepresible Romanian for long, and he converted a low cross from Óla Jákup Rúnason in the 25th minute. He then turned provider, dropping a corner kick for Tim Lindow to fly at and head straight in for 2-0.
Grilled were, if not completely crumbling, at a loss for ideas, and Tian Yonghang
only garnered their first proper strike after 33 minutes. Unfortunately, veteran Dutch goalie Theunis Sjoerd Ariens smothered it, and from the quick kick out local leftback Hussain Ala had the ball trickle out to him from a deflected through pass. Ala snapped it up for three, and Ruszczyński upped it to four with a piledriver.
Somehow, the Birds had managed most of the possession for the half, and Stanca saw no recourse but to introduce Mohd Safri for the uninspiring Liyong. The improvement was immediate, as he gave the Storm Q8 defence much to think about with his zigzagging runs, and Leong Wan Kang
would have probably converted had Bentein not come up with a wonderful interception.
It was hard to describe how much Mohd Safri influenced the side, as he appeared every this way to bamboozle the opposition. In the 65th minute, he was doubling up with Ling Fuquan
on the right, and had a huge hand in Ling getting his cross off. Hung Wee Li
, whose search for a new club seems to have stalled, flung himself at the ball and got the comeback going, though there was a hint of handball there.
Leong followed suit seven minutes later, outdoing Naguan Ibn-Akil after a long, involved chase to the left of the penalty area, before cutting the ball past Ariens. It was all going the Birds' way, and a little later Pompeo Bellamoli
caught a flick-on by Mohd Safri after an indirect free-kick, and took his time steadying himself before cracking it between the keeper's legs.
Storm closed ranks at that, however, and despite the supporters really getting into it for the final ten minutes, Grilled could not find a way through for the fourth time, and the visitors came away with dealing Grilled their first official loss at The Cooking Pot this campaign.