Zzz At The Z
Guiga Gets Draw
The Birds slipped up once again as they shipped a three-goal lead to the visiting Zambree FC, leaving them eight points adrift of runaway leaders JUtd at this early stage of the season. While sorry for Grilled, it was a vindication of sorts for Zambree's Brazillian player-coach Vanderson Guiga, whose artistry from dead balls salvaged his club's fourth point in the league.
With Saraca Swashbucklers on Wednesday, the home team had to be careful not to overexert themselves, while their opponents had no such worries after a 1-0 loss to RA Trevista Rangers. They reprised the 5-3-2 that did not impact well against JUtd, but in a symmetric formet this time, calling upon gifted Number Seven José Pozuelo to hold it all together by himself in central midfield.
Just-capped 18 year-old prodigy Colby Wong was mentioned by Niculae Stanca
as one to watch in the match programme, but the goalkeeper would be taken down a notch in no time. Just one minute had passed when Shiya Shaahee
, having switched to the left, dodged past Jan-Phlipp Wölm to squirrel a tight cross in. Livewire Zhao Jing Wei
looked suspiciously offside as he lunged towards it, but the whistle didn't go as he directed it past Wong, who raised his arm to no avail.
Zambree got on with it, but were constantly forced back by Grilled's suffocating midfield. Having completely abandoned the numerical fight, they were hoping to pick out one of Soriano Espel or former Yan Yan FC forward Khaironnisam bin Osman on the bypass, but usually unsuccessfully.
The Birds had a clearer gameplan, which involved short passes at a quick clip. The visitors tended to have enough bodies back, at least up until the 26th minute when Chow Ying Lee
switched the ball seamlessly to his other side, and breezed past his man. The ensuing covering left Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
with a few extra yard to drift into, and that was enough for the lethal striker.
Zhao could have gotten another when Woon Shun An
squared stylishly on the very next foray, but while he put his head through the ball hard, Colby Wong exhibited impressive footwork in scuttling backwards and tipping it over the bar with his fingertips.
While Zhao would later regret not putting that away, there were few indications that Grilled were in any trouble at this point, with Qassem Madaini
whacking in for 3-0 after yet another run from Shaahee. Although Jens Anderson pulled one back after a blitz, the supporters were happy enough to overlook what they thought would be a comfortable victory.
Their opinion would waver as Zambree's tenacious defence kept Grilled from extending their lead through the first part of the second half, especially after Madaini was questionably judged to have illegally blocked off Khaironnisam in the 67th minute. The visiting fans took it as recompense for the previous offside non-call, and Guiga took responsibility for it with a smooth strike into Edmund Kryus
' top left corner.
By this time, the supporters had gone from anticipating a washout, to just praying that Grilled would limp over the line. They heaved a collective sign of relief when one long ball made it all the way to Espel, who struck well only to be denied by the rapid reactions of Kryus.
Zhao Jing Wei
was substituted after that effort, having been grounded for the past minute or so after a bad landing. Gleb Dorogan
came in for the final ten minutes, and nearly made a huge splash when his hassling set up Tian Yonghang
for what would have been the matchwinner. Yet again, however, Colby Wong was on it, and showed just why he got selected against Cyprus with a stunning stop with his feet.
It was all getting rather rough as time began to tick away, and Dorogan got himself into hot water when he went at full steam through Filipino wingback Kim Matias in the 86th minute. The match was stopped for some time as Matias' teammates chased Dorogan to his own corner flag demanding an explanation, and were barely mollified when Víctor Regúlez pulled out only the yellow card.
For all that, they got their revenge in the most fitting fashion, with captain-coach Vanderson Guiga lining up the resulting free-kick against a four-man Grilled wall. Kryus might have through that enough due to the distance, but was helpless when Guiga dropped a classic banana kick into the unguarded side.
It was Zambree's turn to protect the status quo as Arnold Hansel rushed to reclaim the ball and then proceeded to walk very slowly back, a move that Regúlez didn't see the humour in. Chow Ying Lee
tried to spark one final rush, but the visitors held firm and claimed a share of the points.