Classic "A" Lee
So Good They Named Him Twice
Midfielder Lee Lee Hao
settled further into his new third forward role, as he struck in each half to guide Grilled Birds to an impressive 4-1 home victory against the previously unbeaten Claseek visitors. The Geylang club, who had coped excellently with their first taste of Division Two action in the last fortnight, arrived with a brief to hit the Birds on the counter - but found them more than prepared.
Having arguably gotten the better deal out of their goalless away trip to saiNts James Park, before rolling former S-League winners Blackburn Rovers Fan, Claseek's supporters were understandably expectant arriving at The Cooking Pot. In more good news for them, regulars Ang Chu Feng and Mukund Trivedi were reported to have recovered in time from knocks sustained while moonlighting as wingbacks in cup competition, further boosting Claseek's strength.
Indian national Trivedi would start on the bench as Claseek head coach Doğan Pürçek opted to pile on the pace with Jorge Fernando Ram however, as they came out with one of the fastest sides in the country, based on raw speed. Grilled knew this, and responded by sitting noticeably deeper than usual, denying Claseek the space they needed to operate in.
Despite that, Claseek's individual bursts proved difficult for Grilled to keep a cap on, and Wong Ping Shun
was forced into taking Yeo Hao Cheng down after just four minutes. The unexpected back pairing of Yuki Irie
and Zhao Jing Wei
were surprisingly composed, though, refusing to take the bait on Claseek's many fake-out runs.
This left Portuguese attacker Feliciano Rodrigues, who had just gotten his career century goal a few weeks back, with little to work with. At the other end, Kosuke Mizushima likewise was a picture of class, but then it all went sour for them in the 19th minute, when Lee Lee Hao
sized up the situation wide right. Finding nothing to his liking, Lee went for an audacious diagonal attempt, that wound up slicing past Eñaut Iturrioz from the tightest of angles.
Claseek would collect the counterattacking goal that they craved four minutes later, after Ang Chu Feng nicked it off Ang Leong Kum
as Grilled pushed for a second. Not normally known for covering ground, Ang blew Zhao aside as he went all the way by himself, and equalised to a resounding reception from the away section behind the goal.
It was back to stalemate mode, with Claseek captain Siba Pati urging his teammates to be cautious. Grilled were not inclined to be patient, in contrast, and this indirectly led to a horrendous charge by Clément Meyer
on Tung Guicheng, that led to the Hong Konger landing awkwardly on his left arm. Meyer looked shaken with Tung's arm clearly broken, and did not contest referee Arne Hartvigsen's immediate yellow card.
The injury turned out to be a turning point for the Birds, with Claseek apparently badly affected by the hit to Tung. Trivedi would enter for him, but soon showed why he had not been considered to start, as he moved sluggishly throughout. Grilled began to switch over to a high line, and after Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
earned a free-kick right in front of goal, Wong Ping Shun
rammed it home under the wall.
Claseek had barely registered that, when Tian Yonghang
put the Birds 3-1 up. Eventual Man of the Match Lee Lee Hao
would again be in the thick of it, as he tied Ram's attentions up before unleashing a spectacular thirty-yard pass straight to the feet of a breaking Tian. Indonesian centreback Dhany Kaifar did his utmost with a full-on sliding block, but Tian held his shot, before sliding it beyond Iturrioz.
This was disastrous for the visitors, who had counted on keeping the Birds at bay, and ekeing out a low-scoring win. With this tactic no longer available, Claseek opened up, and actually had several respectable attempts on target by Rodrigues. Unfortunately, Wong Tian Han
was never going to be easily beaten at that distance, and Grilled ended the half with their two-goal lead intact.
Grilled came out guns blazing for the second half, and Clark Won
worried Iturrioz with a fine warningless volley with three minutes gone by. Although that one sailed well over the bar, Lee Lee Hao
would shortly after cap a showpiece performance by bursting through the heart of Claseek's defence, before finding the bottom corner of the net.
It was all but over by then, as Claseek effectively contented themselves with a damage limitation exercise, drawing their personnel tightly inside their own territory. And it was probably as well, with the scorching temperatures playing badly on their running game - Yeo Hao Cheng exhibited signs of heatstroke after a series of exhausting shuttle runs up and down the left side, and to little impact with few passing targets in place.
They did have one more real shot at reducing the differential, after Pati did brilliantly to spot Yuki Irie
's slightly lazy pass from the back. However, Irie responded well by closing on Rodrigues immediately after the mistake, and managed to badger him sufficiently that he put it marginally wide.
Mohd Safri bin Mohd Kassim
would try hard to keep his scoring momentum going as the contest lurched towards a close, but found no joy as Eñaut Iturrioz prevented his lukewarm efforts with no apparent difficulty.