|Season 58||W||3 - 6||Tournament (Playoffs)|
|Season 54||W||4 - 6||Cup|
|Season 51||L||3 - 5||Tournament (Playoffs)|
|Season 51||W||3 - 4||Tournament (Group Phase)|
Italian veteran Danilo De Sario got his own back for that Singapore Cup final defeat some five seasons ago, as his brace meant that Random Curiosity FC would prevail 4-2 at the Yagami High Sport Arena. It had been the two clubs' only meeting aside from that very memorable day, which was sufficiently recent that the home fans savoured this win with extra relish.
There might yet be another butting of heads in the Cup before too long, with Random Curiosity FC also engaged in the quarterfinals against II.1 leaders Charis FC, but few were thinking that far ahead with the participants mired at the foot of the league. There would be many familiar faces, with Lee Lee Hao
and Ang Leong Kum
the only changes from Niculae Stanca's XI, in place of Zhao Jing Wei
and Low Aik Jia
, whom were left on the bench.
Random Curiosity FC were under new leadership too, with this being only Daniel Pla's second game in charge. The 44 year-old kept half of the team from that fateful day, if with main signing Michelangelo Del Riccio promoted to captain status. Local wing stars Haji bin Omar and Dean Nightingale were notable holdovers, together with Eng Soon Lee, wingback Ladislav Mužíček, goalie Jan Skjæveland and not to forget De Sario himself.
An Emerald Challenger Cup and promotion to the S-League later, they were ready to face the Birds again, though after a similarly slow start; there was little remaining indication of that as the action unfolded, however, with Michelangelo Del Riccio demonstrating just why the hosts had been willing to expend over S$11 million on him, when he completely took out Gene Filippone
with a head fake before scoring in the fifth minute.
That didn't go down well with the Swiss, who was understandably furious with himself at that. There remained plenty of time, certainly, and the Birds tried to direct play through Lee Lee Hao
. Eng was his equal in midfield, though, the Random Curiosity FC would find themselves two ahead after Fathi Habita won a corner off an explosive overlap down the left. Habita would then convert it too, meeting Mužíček's corner at the near post.
Grilled were simply not getting the breaks, which was only all too evident when a surprise pull forward from Tian Yonghang
resulted in a shot that appeared to have been deflected behind by Nicholas Cavalchi. It wasn't noticed by the match officials, and while Tian was remonstrating, Skjæveland sent a monster goal kick downfield to former national player Haji bin Omar, who slalomed inside before playing a reverse pass to leave De Sario a simple finish.
The Curiosity fans were really enjoying this, but the Birds were not rolling over just yet. They were getting their fair share of chances, and odds were that one had to come good. This happened in the 24th minute, Ang Leong Kum
continuing to impress with a smart jiggle to throw Mužíček off for a second. It was enough time to thread a stiff pass the breadth of the penalty area, which Wong Ping Shun
arrowed past Skjæveland.
De Sario would be back right away, however, as the Birds made a suicidal rush forward from the restart, only to be caught with their pants down when Del Riccio managed to advance to within ten yards on a brilliant dribble. Woon Shun An
was the only one to recognize the danger, as he tried to put himself between Del Ricco and the goal, but De Sario was in support, and again availed himself of an excellent assist.
Being 1-4 down short of half and hour was a little hard for the Grilled side to take, given that they had been pretty active themselves, but they just could not find that something special required to breach Nicholas Cavalchi's watch. Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
attempted to throw the Italian sweeper off with some of the less honourable tricks from his long playbook, but Cavalchi stood his own admirably.
The middle part of the match was difficult to watch at times, as the Birds' stop-and-start offence crashed against a packed Curiosity team, that was hardly eager to venture more than strictly required. Lee Lee Hao
hustled plenty throughout, but with Chow Ying Lee
not on his game, his infrequent through passes were all for naught.
Grilled's opportunity finally came after 66 minutes, and it took a moment of madness from Swedish midfielder Jovan Novaković to come by; out of nowhere, Novaković ran straight into Zhu Changchun
and sent him straight to the ground, which got the Birds a free-kick right in front of the penalty area. Wong Ping Shun
made a dummy run, which set the stage for Woon to spring an unexpected pass to the unlikely target of Ling Fuquan
. Ling proved to be more than able from close range, and reduced the deficit at a stroke.
This got the visiting stands to perk up, and there were expectations of a possible comeback when Wong broke clear on the right several minutes later. Sadly, Chow was totally off, and put in a weak drive that rolled right to Skjæveland. Random Curiosity then could have put it to bed, but Dean Nightingale skied his effort miles high. No matter, though, as their four goals proved more than enough to claim the points.