|Season 59||W||5 - 1||League|
|Season 57||W||4 - 2||Tournament (Group Phase)|
|Season 56||L||2 - 1||Cup|
|Season 53||L||4 - 7||Tournament (Group Phase)|
|Season 26||W||1 - 4||Cup|
Grim For Greens
Krijn Cashes In
Despite retaining fifth place, Grilled are hardly out of the woods yet, as they gave up the points to the precariously-positioned Joker 9 at their Aljunied Bridge home. In an exceedingly open game the sort of which is not uncommon between teams mostly resigned to their fates, the Jokers threw and landed more blows against the declining Birds, and gave their own survival dreams a large dose of self-help.
Pressure had been mounting on Joker 9 loyalist Wei Shuangyuan, the Chinese national who had joined the Geylang club as a teenager, and eventually coached them to the S-League; despite a solid wage bill, and no lack of ability with all three of their key midfielders capped internationally, they had floundered badly since coming up. Many pundits had put it down to their forwards stubbornly operating in the old-fashioned method of staying upfield and not competing for the ball, which Wei however had shown no signs of addressing.
They would come good this time, doubtless aided by the Birds' own gung-ho attitude, and Dutch forward Krijn van Wijngaarden spent just three minutes to get in between the central defenders, finding the corner of goal with a superb power drive. Wong Tian Han
thought he had it covered, but the early strike left him a split-second late to it.
Grilled pushed back after the Jokers' quick start, but without the benched Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
, their attack appeared a bit disjointed. Rinor Isufi
had been hoping to impress on his hard-won league start, but despite moments of individual brillance, his understanding with Chow Ying Lee
in particular left plenty to be desired, as the two fast runners got in each other's way several times.
At the same time, the match was heating up slowly, as the players traded little irritants. Referee Knud Kläsener controlled the game well, and waited until the 30th minute to give out his first card, to Radu Stănculescu for a trip from behind on Woon Shun An
. His target was not mollified, though, and waited for his chance to repay the favour, getting his own yellow.
Joker then came good through Víctor Iriztain, the scorer of their lone goal the last time the sides met, as he sidefooted neatly between Wong Tian Han
's legs to make it 2-0. Grilled were looking extremely vulnerable suddenly, and although Ling Fuquan
affected Kim Ng enough to throw what would have been a textbook corner conversion off, centreback Wong Jun Tong would make it three anyway as Wong Ping Shun
gave Ling false assurance.
Chow Ying Lee
then got one back with a one-man raid a minute before half-time came around, but it would be the hosts who got the last word in. In the middle of time added on, with some of the Grilled players' minds already in the dressing room, Romanian winger Radu Stănculescu dove straight into the mix, and came up with a stunning dipping effort for 4-1.
The interval didn't help the Birds much in collecting themselves, and they were blitzed yet again by van Wijngaarden on the restart. Gene Filippone
tried to cut off the angles, but some astonishing movement on the ball by the Dutchman rendered this useless. He might well have scored himself again, but unselfishly squared to the advancing Riccardo Merola for a confirmed tap-in.
The only Grilled player who looked like coming out of this trip with any credit at all was, slightly surprisingly, Chow Ying Lee
. Although slowed from his lightning-quick peak, the 34 year-old retained enough powder in the keg to seriously trouble his markers, and had the Jokers not had the services of Wong Jun Tong, they could well have fallen prey to Chow.
At the very least, Chow would probably have had a hat-trick, seeing as how he trapped Ang Leong Kum
's quite unorthodox cross in the 61st minute, before slamming it past Tom Mõniste. Tellingly, despite remaining three goals away from salvaging anything at all, Chow sprinted in to retrieve the ball, an action that won the appreciation of large sections of the Grilled fans.
There was a brief revival of belief from that camp five minutes later, as Woom Shun An scooted by Mõniste on a stylish breakaway, to further reduce the Jokers' lead to 5-3. This spurred the home team to lay on the tackles, which they had held off on after running up their huge lead, and Victor Meda was fortunate to stay on after hacking who else but Chow down, 71 minutes on.
This turned out dictating the direction of the remainder of the game, as the Birds wound up responding to the provocations, and lost sight of a potential comeback. Tian Yonghang
tried to keep it together, but Joker 9 skipper Narayan Naik was wily enough to recognize how it was. A spate of minor infractions continued to slow the game down, to Grilled's great frustration, and it all exploded when Victor Meda seemed not to pull out of his slide into Wong Ping Shun
in the 79th minute.
This enraged Rinor Isufi
sufficiently to go at Meda, and he could well have thrown something had Woon Shun An
not arrived in time to head him off. It ended up being a double whammy for the Birds, as Isufi's behaviour brought him a deserved booking, while Wong would have to be taken off in any case. Low Aik Jia
was a popular replacement, but he displayed little indication of being on for the occasion.
Predictably, Grilled turned to Low for the final push, but for all his fresh legs, he would up being forced wide, with what crosses he managed easily dealt with. Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
was shown fidgeting restlessly in the dugout, but Djan Bacelar
elected not to put him in, and the Birds' final substitution would be the usual two-minute appearance of Rashid bin Ahmad