|Season 56||L||2 - 3||Tournament (Group Phase)|
|Season 53||L||1 - 4||Friendly|
|Season 53||W||4 - 1||Friendly|
Spirit Of Sharing
Stung after narrow and not-so-narrow losses to Isle of Flames and Be Champions FC, the Birds returned to The Cooking Pot with nothing less than victory on their mind. This they achieved against the redoubtable singnet_utd, in their sixth straight S-League season, again with all three strikers notching one to their name.
singnet_utd had long been considered one of Singapore's premier sides, in large part due to their squad strength. Driven by homegrown international midfield Ling Zhicheng, and with Italian goalie Nicola Pillitu in his prime, they were justly known as having few true weaknesses. Fang Kunxian would not start against all expectations, as Portuguese head coach Diogo Egas was set on testing Grilled with a 3-5-2.
As for the hosts, they too had a couple of interesting selections, with Zhao Jing Wei
omitted for Lee Lee Hao
. At the back, Ling Fuquan
was likewise passed over for Clément Meyer
, and the two former Wings trainees had to be content with keeping each other company on the bench.
The derby saw a choppy start as the teams considered their recent setbacks in the league, with neither eager to fall even further behind. This aimless tension could not hold for long, and Grilled sent out the first feelers through Wong Ping Shun
on the right side, to which Greek fullback Tellis Rouvas dealt with effectively enough.
Only for seventeen minutes, though, with Wong's direct style finally winning through then; singnet_utd covered as well as could be expected, but Tian Yonghang
's constant changing of directions made him impossible to put a lid on, and the Grilled captain did just enough to stroke it past Pillitu's extended leg.
singnet_utd were attempting to hit back on the flanks, as others have recently done so well against the Birds, but they didn't quite have that last bit of cutting edge. Worse, this worked against them when Low Aik Jia
hustled the ball off Addie Mes in the 23rd minute, which led to a charge at top speed that the equally-speedy Chow Ying Lee
This made it seven from six for Chow, who has certainly been relishing the top flight. The visitors could only redouble their efforts at spreading play, but were repelled time and again, with Frédéric Piaud having to drag Wong back in the 27th minute after coming out second best in a scuffle, which resulted in the first yellow of the day.
With no real improvement from singnet_utd, Grilled were always a threat to add to their lead, and this they did through some individual skill from Low in the 39th minute. A rout was on the cards, until visiting captain Mes made the game interesting again with a reply on the counter, after Pillitu had saved brilliantly from Wong's angled rocket.
The home fans were well up for it, and had no cause to tamp down the volume as Grilled continued in like fashion through much of the second half. singnet_utd seemed almost resigned, and Polish forward Franciszek Mostowski's constant calls for the ball were largely in vain as the usually imperious singnet_utd midfield proceeded with caution.
That didn't help them when Chow decided to turn on the afterburners with fifteen minutes left, and of course it had to be Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
to join his partners on the scoreboard. The Number Eighteen looked marginally offside as he started his run-up before Ömer Öykü reacted, but the linesman let it go. Mes wasn't amused, but the decision stood.
Still, his side probably got off easy, given that they somehow survived the Birds' ending barrage without conceding further. Some put Pillitu in contention for the position of Italian national keeper, and it was not hard to imagine why, with his impressive display of shot-stopping against multiple Grilled players in a dizzying five-minute spell.
Perhaps out of respect for his exertions, Grilled took it down a notch after Gene Filippone
's curler was palmed away by the man, and Djan Bacelar
took the opportunity before the final whistle to give Gleb Dorogan
the S-League appearance that the former skipper had long craved.