All We Could
placed nine fingers on the Golden Boot with his third hat-trick of the season as Grilled busted TTTNW 4-0 at Hell Hole, but even that is unlikely to be enough as both Rapala FC and newbies are newbies won their matches too to remain first and second. The Birds could have done no more, though, and will now have to hope for results to go their way on the last day.
TTTNW knew that they needed a win to avoid automatic relegation, and if there was anybody who would lead them to one, it was skipper Jaafar bin Mahamad, who had the aid of Chow Ying Lee
being suspended for this one. Grilled therefore paraded a 3-5-2, with Rashid bin Ahmad
tasked with his long-awaited first league start at left-back.
With goals still at something of a premium for the hosts, they had as their first objective choking off Grilled's supply, which was made easier by there being no Chow to hang off the last man. However, with the form that Tian was in, all he needed was to be given the ball, and that happened in the 24th minute when Woon Shun An
read his infield movement correctly, and played it in. Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
assisted with a delicate flick on, and Tian fired past Li Ciying.
Amazingly, this is the first meeting between the sides that now 39 year-old Danish goalkeeper Kalle Riis has not been between the sticks for TTTNW, him having almost certainly retired after a leg injury. Riis looked on grimly from the VIP box as his team's goal was breached again two minutes later, Abdul bin Jantan
's uncontrolled wallop from outside the penalty area doing its job.
Neither of these could really be attributed to any defensive errors, but ominously for TTTNW, they exhibited no signs of being able to pull one, let alone two, back. Michelangelo Petter was ever-willing up top, and gave Ling Fuquan
more than a few bumps, but with the young and unassertive Mak Hao De beside him, the Italian was always fighting a losing battle.
The second half played out much the same way as coach Li Chun-fai saw no way to improve upon their chances, and they stuck to trying not to concede any further while hoping that Petter or perhaps Xinés Siñeriz would single-handedly drag them back into it. Li Ciying did his bit in the 67th minute, diverting Ling Fuquan
's hearty strike with one hand.
Li had no recourse three minutes later when Tian was let through by a combination of snazzy dribbling from Shiya Shaahee
, freshly replacing Abdul bin Jantan
, and some distraction from Zhu Chanchun, who was enjoying his forays. Inviting Li onto his right, Tian then put his ambidexterity to good use as he switched over to his left foot and stroked into an empty net, easy as pie.
There was surely no way back now for one of Grilled's oldest foes, but nobody told Ling Fuquan
, who put himself at risk of being left out against Robbie Football Club with a vicious sliding tackle that stricter referees than Manuel Salazar would have sent him off for. That earned Ling an earful from Niculae Stanca
, and the defender was noticeably more subdued after that.
Mohd Safri, who had had a productive if not particularly distinguished morning, came off in the 85th minute for the eager Leong Wan Kang
, who immediately submitted his application for more appearances with an assist for Tian's third on his first touch. Petter tried for a home souvenir from Division Two from a late counter, but put his last valiant effort agonizingly wide.