|Season 52||L||0 - 3||Tournament (Playoffs)|
|Season 43||W||0 - 3||League|
|Season 43||W||6 - 0||League|
Grilled were not leaving it to chance against De_Sangkakala United, and duly forestalled a repeat of their underwhelming 0-3 tournament collapse to the Pulau Ubin club five seasons back. Four from that side, including goalscorers Leen Beemster and Gürkan Gürsoy, featured today, but none managed much of an impact, as the Birds rolled them over by half-time.
The gigantic HitMen Arena was more than half filled as the fixture called for neutral ground, with both participants having enjoyed fine starts, having won five of their six competitive matches thus far. De_Sangkakala were coming off a 9-0 rout of AC Fantasista, and despite there being two divisions between the sides, there was a sense of quiet confidence in their supporters' section.
It took only four minutes for that to be shaken, with Grilled captain Tian Yonghang
enacting his own little payback against Georgian defender Temur Tsurtsumia, who had contained him so comprehensively during their previous meeting. Quite a bit wiser, Tian played to his strengths this time and beat Tsurtsumia on the ground with a special first touch, and then slammed it past goalie Elmer Beiboot.
De_Sangkakala pulled themselves together and tried to reproduce the patient waiting game that had them outlast before, but this was a much more incisive Grilled team. The raids came thick and fast, and Clément Meyer
whipped one wide, before flavour of the month Chow Ying Lee
extended his scoring streak to a seventh game, as he belted Zhao Jing Wei
's through pass straight and true.
The next three minutes would see two more, one apiece for Wong Ping Shun
and Chow, as the opposition defence gave in. Skipper Wilfried Blücher was distinctly displeased at the lax marking that allowed this to happen, and chewed into his teammates with evident fury.
Not that it helped much, as the Birds' offence was just too fluid for even a five-man defence to keep tabs on. Tian would go on to show that he was not simply about craft, as he powered home a sidewinder that Wong would have been proud of in the 35th minute.
With the outcome set in stone, Luis Alcántara felt it safe to save Tian for the weekend, and reserve forward Leong Wan Kang
stepped in immediately after the break. The cameras didn't catch what Tian whispered to Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
as he handed him the armband, but one could reasonably surmise it having to do with the latter not yet scoring, from their facial expressions.
Despite the plausible entreaties, it would be Ling Fuquan
who would light the place up next, as the centreback began participating in attacks in earnest. A clever tap saw Grilled's sixth trickle in, and Ling should have gotten a second in the 69th minute with a fully deserving textbook diving header, but Beiboot was up for that one.
A bad day for the De_Sangkakala faithful then somehow became worse, after their tenacious Dutch defender Leen Beemster tore a muscle trying to block Ling's attempt, and had to be stretchered off in agony. They did brighten slightly after the clinical Gürsoy managed to strike against the Birds once more, with a perfect arching header off youngster Sng Chee Kum's hopeful long pass, after it bounced high.
There was only one thing left to happen, and it had to be Mohd Safri's goal eight minutes from time, to make it the fourth game in a row that had seen all three of Grilled's strikers find the net. After this, Rashid bin Ahmad
departed with the satisfaction of a job well done, leaving Gene Filippone
to hold the flag for the last few minutes.