Days after defending their Vyscha Liga spot against SS REAL MADRID in a spectacular come-from-behind 4-3 win, drained Ukrainian visitors Akkerman slumped to a 6-0 loss at The Cooking Pot, which in their defence was against a close to full strength Birds lineup. In fact, Akkerman's reserves did brilliantly to frustrate Grilled after the initial storming, denying them for nearly an hour. The last seven minutes saw them crumple, however, as Grilled padded the score to a flattering margin.
The fans' hope of watching much-storied Akkerman captain Oleg Kobylinskiy or even free-scoring Jorge Magasich were dashed when the lineups were announced, though they did at least witness Olexiy Berezovchuk, a 60-cap former mainstay of the national side, lead the visitors out. Being 37, however, it soon became hard to watch Berezovchuk firmly in Shiya Shaahee
's pocket purely down to the latter's vast mobility advantage, and Shaahee soon found time to put one in for want-away Seytek Djekshenkulov
to crash home off the side of his head.
Akkerman were playing very deep, with their young crop of defenders drawing back deep, but this only gave Grilled more space to work it in front of their flat five-man backline. Shaahee was making himself noticed down his flank, and the inevitable result was the left side opening up for Woon Shun An
to impose himself. Woon has seldom done more than show off his passing range from behind the halfway line, but on this occasion he jinked his way past Icelanding wingback Þorfinnur Oddbjörnsson like he had been doing it all his life, and placed it accurately past Igor Vubuyzub.
A third came in minutes, as Chow Ying Lee
shook off his rust to outpace Christophe Fabre, again putting to rest concerns that his pace would not last. The Birds then seemed to hold off somewhat, although Akkerman playmaker Ovidiu Bălaşa contributed too with his best period, aerially dominating even Djekshenkulov. Unfortunately, Ogün Cesur was not of much use as an outlet despite being a reserve goalie, understandable given that the Turk was nearing forty.
First-choice pair Qassem Madaini
and Ling Fuquan
went off at the break, but replacements Rashid bin Ahmad
and Liang Liyong
were no more generous, leaving poor Cesur completely bullied through the ninety minutes. However, the Akkerman defence had gelled too, and it was not down to luck alone that they kept Grilled from having even a shot on target for most of the second half, Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
's awe-inspiring but ultimately blocked volley from wide excepted.
The exertion of chasing the game against the well-oiled Grilled machinery took its toll, and Zhu Changchun
scrapped a fourth goal in with seven minutes remaining. The next one was more remarkable, as Rashid raced fully sixty metres to put himself in a scoring position. The former national U-20 defender nearly tripped over the final ball, but recovered himself to slot in his first friendly goal for the Birds.
Acting captain Tian Yonghang
would not cap his miracle season with a parting goal, however, as his touch failed him in the 87th minute, as he lifted his lob over the crossbar with Vubuyzub gone to ground. It was not a happy day at all for Abel Coronel either, as an unproductive day spent huffing between midfield and attack ended with a severely twisted ankle, after one swerve too sharp.
Woon Shun An
would have the honour of closing Grilled's campaign as the friendly headed into time added on, and his ability to turn it on from a standing position must surely have caught the attention of Niculae Stanca
as the coach ponders his tactical options for the new season.