Not Meant To Be
Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
got his visit to The Acidic City, and moreover got a goal to take home, but there would be no happy ending for the Grilled stalwart as Chemistry frustrated the visitors throughout, and got four past Noubaryan to throw the Birds out of the Cup.
On the surface, it was as good a time as any for Grilled to come calling, with important central defender Mohd Hairul Nizam bin Adenan suspended for the hosts, whose squad wages were less than a quarter that of Grilled. There was no sign that the Birds were anything less that careful, though, as they brought a full first team with the exception of the recovering Edmund Kryus
A routine stroll it looked like too when Chow Ying Lee
opened the scoring in the third minute, as he edged past Dutch captain Erwin Alink with consummate ease. The two-time national champions, coming on a Sunday defeat to Kaijam, were rattled, but grew more and more assured as the minutes passed.
The match began to take a familiar shine as Grilled's unease at the back became more and more apparant, and there were ample warning signs as 21 year-old winger Azri Ariff found far too much space in front of the back two. He hit a few shots wide, before lu Zunwen
gave up a free-kick with a trip on the untiring bundle of energy.
Bad choice, as German striker Meinhart Gehberger duly curled it past a slow-reacting Noubaryan to level matters. Grilled had barely taken it in when Ariff came at the Birds again, and this time got deep within the penalty area before beating Noubaryan with a low drive that the Georgian goalie stuck his leg out too late for.
The Birds were not that worried yet, as they were still pushing up consistently, but a combination of uncharacteristically poor understanding between their three forwards, and sensible defending from Chemistry, held them well at bay. lu meanwhile received a yellow for another clumsy charge, as the midfield doggedly plugged away.
The same sad story repeated itself through the second half, with head coach Niculae Stanca
cutting a mournful figure as he surveyed the scene with hand on chin. The players were not actually doing anything wrong, but they somehow never quite managed to get near enough, with the Chemistry defence able to set up some thirty yards out.
The Birds' goalkeeping woes then came to the fore again, as Noubaryan put Qassem Madaini
under unnecessary pressure with a pass to him with former national forward Mohd Syamsuri bin Razuwan pressing. The old fox kept very close, and Madaini's clearance down the line was picked off, which led to Lin Seng Woon not believing his luck as the ball was sent to him with only Noubaryan to beat.
Lin did the job, and Ray Hunyh stuck the knife in with a blazing strike from the left, as Ling's oversight was immediately latched on by the alert Lee Feng Ah. That led to a shouting match between the defender and his goalkeeper, both of whose stock probably hadn't risen with this display.
Grilled were not giving up yet, though, and with all the attacks they were starting, at least one had to get through. This did happen in the 75th minute, as a flurry of attempted shots and fast closing-downs was concluded with a finish by Mohd Safri, who knew exactly what he was doing. Mohd Safri wasted no time in rushing to pick the ball out of the net, and the Birds must have been odds-on to take it into extra time had they quickly found another.
Unfortunately, that was not happening, and the introduction of Gleb Dorogan
and Alex Fonseca
had no impact on the team's sudden inadequacies up front, leaving Chemistry a nice home earner against Tanglin Winners FC in the seventh round.