Spartans In Disarray
Grilled's forwards did their bit in the must-win battle against SpartanSG, with all three finding the net in a comprehensive 4-0 home victory. Just over 50000 assembled at The Cooking Pot to support a Birds team hitting a rough patch, and expectations were not overly high with the Spartans' Shaiful Bahri bin Ahmad Rosdi in immaculate form.
The first part of the match was tetchy, as the visitors concentrated on breaking up play, but not six minutes had gone when an accident forced them to reevaluate their gameplan. The energetic Lin Lai Pin decided to dive head-first at a bobbling ball, and unfortunately for him Seytek Djekshenkulov
went knee-first. Lin was thankfully only clipped on his chest, but that was painful enough for Belgian reserve Francisco João Barbosa to come in instead.
That marked the beginning of Grilled pushing Spartans back, but their back three were obdurate enough that the Birds' first actual attempt on goal came only in the 28th minute. Chow Ying Lee
had the ball but not the numbers, and eventually laid it back for Woon Shun An
to lump a surprisingly controlled shot in.
While a narrow miss, that at least proved the the opposition backline was not impregnable, and Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
continued confounding his critics with a brilliant piledriver in the 32nd minute, taken with Reinout van der Meer hanging off his shoulder. It was Mohd Safri's 75th league goal, and 114th competitive one, which pulls him further clear of Ulf Hjortlind in the club's all-time top scorers' table into fourth spot.
He should however be looking behind him, as Chow Ying Lee
made it two in the 41st minute, thanks to some sideways short passing at high speed mostly between Zhu Changchun
and Abdul bin Jantan
. Chow knew he would miss the next game against the team that never was through suspension at that point, but didn't let it affect him as he deposited into the bottom right corner.
Though the Spartans beat newbies from the same position last week, a repeat looked increasingly unlikely as their players slowed perceptibly despite the half-time rest. Nobody found the energy to keep with current league top scorer Tian Yonghang
as he dashed inside in the 56th minute to claim the third, with German leftback Henning Tolloch clearly struggling in the heat. Head coach Ivan Gillerberg was seen telling Luke Awyong to prepare himself, only to put the substitution off.
followed Chow into referee Manfred Borowka's bad books as he rather mean-spiritedly blocked Lóránt Somogyi from getting a free-kick off, but that episode was soon forgotten as performer of the season Tian got over the breaking of his latest eight-game scoring streak by making it four.
Chow Ying Lee
tried to join in the party with a breathtaking chip that however only found the crossbar, and Edmund Kryus
protected his clean sheet to crowd approval, when he chased what appeared to be a lost cause, and pounced at Joachim November's feet just as the Belgian big man was about to pull the trigger.
had not had the most eyecatching of outings, especially when compared to his recent exploits, but his hard work on the right meant that Ling Fuquan
was seldom exposed. This was acknowledged by the Grilled fans, who applauded him heartily when he made his bow two minutes from time, for Alex Fonseca
to see it out.