|Season 52||W||2 - 7||Tournament (Playoffs)|
|Season 52||W||4 - 3||Tournament (Playoffs)|
|Season 52||L||4 - 6||Tournament (Playoffs)|
Man Down Utd Up
Referee Booed Off
Grilled caught a stumble as Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
's untimely dismissal in the 23rd minute proved to be the turning point of an otherwise extremely entertaining match, and visitors -= Manchester United =- took full advantage to claim a considerable lead. Mohd Safri's colleagues tried manfully to compensate for his absence, and nearly even made a draw happen, but came up just short.
The record between the teams has been one of goals, and there appeared little to detract from that as United arrived in attacking mode, playing just two wingbacks in defence as they aimed to take Grilled on at their own game. It was a valiant act, but the Birds were still very much in control, when the controversy of the week erupted in the 23rd minute.
There seemed nothing out of order when Mohd Safri released the ball forward, and the camera had in fact moved on to Tian Yonghang
's chase, when chaos broke loose. Within seconds, players from both side had converged on the pair of Safri and Ulrich Briet, with the duo close to coming to blows.
Swiss referee Arwed Hiestand was a little slow on the uptake, but eventually sorted out what had happened - apparently, Mohd Safri's follow-through had caught Briet, who was unhappy at what he perceived to be intentional, and put his face close to Safri's. Annoyed, the Grilled forward shoved the German aside, which brought his teammates running up, and it escalated from there.
Investigations complete, Hiestand motioned for the players to scatter, and most in attendance were expecting a yellow card for both offenders. However, the referee waved only Mohd Safri to him, and drew out his red card.
That sparked tumult in the stands, and a shocked reaction from Mohd Safri, who made a dismissive gesture before marching off. Niculae Stanca
was furious too, but made no tactical changes, even as Gastón Ovelar duly gave United the lead with a powerful run through the middle.
What made the sending-off worse for the fans was how they perceived bias of the referee, who merely booked Ferry Heijn for dragging Shiya Shaahee
to the ground when the winger completely burnt past him in the 28th minute. Zhao Jing Wei
did equalise soon afterwards to defuse some of the tension from that.
A dark cloud returned to settle over The Cooking Pot as United exposed Grilled's at-times non-existent defence, which was not helped by Ling Fuquan
's caution, after his own red card last week. Ferry Heijn chipped in after Ling was hesitant to commit to a tackle, while nobody picked up Valentin Bugaev, against all elementary footballing principles.
Now two goals down, the fans did perk up when influential Moldovan midfielder Dumitru Coca scythed Zhu Changchun
down from the back, in what was as stonewall a red card offence as has been seen for some time. Hiestand blew his whistle, and lectured Coca sternly before slowly reaching for... his yellow card.
It was all too much for the Grilled supporters, scattered pockets near the front of whom were beginning to fling the match programmes and empty plastic bottles towards the pitch, so it was fortunate that The Cooking Pot has a large separation built-in. The bench was little better off, but had the professionalism to stew in silence.
With a daunting rescue act in front of them, the Birds came out all fired up for the second half, with the home support firmly behind them. However, as Woon Shun An
's exhaustion after repeated short dashes soon told, the handicap of not having Mohd Safri to create space was not insignificant.
did have a good shot at reducing the lead in the 52nd minute when he spotted an empty left wing, but could only send it right at Basilio Lazzaretto. Alerted, United began sitting deeper, and even made it 1-4 on the counter, with Buda perhaps the most unpopular scorer on the premises for some seasons.
Memories of last season's three in the last minute against SKF F.C. had not been forgotten, however, and Grilled never stopped trying. Shaahee, who had put in a superb shift on the right, plugged away throughout; it was little surprise that when the reducer finally came, it would be from his cross, off Chow's forehead.
The Birds drew deep into their reserves with five minutes remaining, and raised hopes when Shaahee came inside to combine magnificently with Tian for 3-4 in the 87th, but that would turn out to be the limit of their response. Interestingly, Hiestand made sure that he was standing close to the tunnel when he blew three sharp notes to end the match, before disappearing quickly into it.