Tian Takes Charge
UNITED SKANKS may have bounced back to II.2 in the most definitive way possible, picking up a perfect 14 wins in III.5 while conceding only twice in the league all season, but they would swiftly continue finding out that Division Two was a different kettle of fish altogether, as the Birds cracked six past them in a one-sided derby.
Grilled reverted to their former through-the-middle approach as Low Aik Jia
was rested and Wong Ping Shun
placed inside, but this proved nary an impediment. Woon Shun An
, fresh off winning his first national cap, would open the scoring after just four minutes, off a slick drag-back and release by Tian Yonghang
, who had dodged to the side of Bogdan Przystał.
SKANKS' South African veteran Jabulani Nxumalo rallied his troops as the visitors pressed for a bit, but the show soon returned to the other end, where Per Wettergren did brilliantly to bash Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
's killer skipping strike back out; Juan Nogueras had to hold Zhao Jing Wei
back to prevent an instant putback, and while the Spaniard somehow escaped a booking, his side would still concede off Wong Ping Shun
's booming free-kick.
Jarosław Kawczak was soon up and about yelling new instructions to SKANKS captain Giani Negreanu, but it was useless as the Birds had found their element. Tian was verging on unplayable, cutting by defenders like they weren't there in the 12th minute for his landmark 150th goal, before again bypassing them all for 4-0 seven minutes later.
It was looking very bad for the visitors at this point, and probably only a freak injury to Chow Ying Lee
saved them from a record drubbing - the speedster, who had just celebrated his 31st birthday yesterday, put his foot down awkwardly as he geared up for a sprint. After watching him hobble painfully for a couple of minutes, Grilled coach Djan Bacelar
made the call to take him off.
His replacement Leong Wan Kang
, who made his first league appearance in half a season, understandably was relatively off-key, and SKANKS managed to hang on with increasing resolve. The Birds for their part took their feet off the pedal for a bit, and the game entered a dull phase characterised by disjointed attacking.
This continued until midway through the second half, when Leong finally got one on target, only to watch it kept from going over the line by Luka Fehrbelliner's leg at full strech. This did however signal that Grilled were going at it again, and it didn't take long for Tian to lure and dart past Polish winger Artur Patecki, who found himself in the unfamiliar position of being the last man back following some intricate interplay.
The visiting stands began to thin rapidly, and somewhat fewer than the original 67000 paying customers remained to witness Rashid bin Ahmad
getting his run-out in the 80th minute, before Zhu Changchun
buffed Grilled's goal difference with a contentious goal in the 84th, coming after he appeared to have elbowed Nogueras aside.