|Season 61||L||3 - 1||League|
|Season 60||L||3 - 0||League|
|Season 60||D||1 - 1||League|
|Season 48||W||1 - 6||Tournament (Playoffs)|
|Season 48||D||2 - 2||Tournament (Group Phase)|
Arc De Trumped
Hoàng Honks Horn
Grilled Birds scored their first win over Arcturules in four attempts, beating the East Coast visitors 3-1 at The Cooking Pot, in a reversal of the same scoreline earlier this season. Seeking to pull clear of the relegation battle, Arcturules banked on neutralising the Birds and taking it with the odd goal, but found the required heavy-duty pressing too draining too maintain till the end.
The past couple of weeks have not been kind to Arcturules, as they ate narrow losses to Claseek and FC Barca Singapore in succession, but Romanian head coach Virgil Bogdan showed few signs of regretting his traditional flat back four. As against Barca, Bogdan opted for Cristiano Fuso as lone target man, with Number Nine Mikael Åhnbeck dropping back as a third central mid.
The home fans were thrilled to see Tian Yonghang
back leading the team out, while Vietnamese defender Hoàng Trung Quá
made his anticipated debut, for the suspended Gene Filippone
. Wong Ping Shun
would however be dropped for the second week in a row, as Hariharan Prabhu
was preferred over him on the right.
There was no question about how Arcturules wanted this one to play out, as their players attached themselves to their chosen targets, and it has to be admitted that they did a good job at it. Nary a Grilled pass was uncontested in the first half-hour, as Tian for one seemed distinctly uncomfortable at Yuta Nakakita being determined to stay within arm's length.
It was anti-football at its purest at times, which the visitors were not about to apologize for, as they buzzed around The Pot's pitch. Arcturules were not posing too much of a threat either too, mostly due to refusing to commit their forces, but they would wind up crafting the first true chance, when skipper Joachim Kapecki burned through Grilled's entire left side in the 30th minute. He proved too fast for Fuso also, as it turned out, which prevented what would have been a likely goal.
Fuso would remain admirably adroit despite having to operate with a minimum of support, if with consistent supply dripping through. He would claim the opener 37 minutes in, after sizing up his options with Ling and Hoàng standing before him. Instead of taking it to the outside and waiting, as he had usually done, Fuso went for the jugular with a huge swing from nearly thirty yards out, that Wong Tian Han
couldn't get to in time.
With the first part of their mission accomplished, Arcturules showed every sign of doubling down on their press, but Grilled fortunately forestalled that with an immediate reply. Fittingly, it was Tian Yonghang
who assisted the strike, after managing to peel away from Yuta for once, and the few seconds he had unshackled from his marker were enough for him to direct the ball towards Lee Lee Hao
, who was bombing forward with abandon.
Bogdan was not happy at this turn of events, perhaps sensing that it would be tricky to take the lead again, and he would have been right about it. While certainly tough for Grilled to deal with, the immense stamina drain his tactics demanded were showing, and quite a few of the Arcturules men showed signs of being relieved that the half-time break had come.
They resumed their active defence for the second half, but the Birds had come to terms with it - fighting movement with movement, they put their efforts into forming small triangular patterns in midfield, with frequent exchanging of positions. Of course, they had been trying to do that before too, but had been swarmed by the opponents' raw energy.
This was starting to get in short supply, and Clément Meyer
found himself getting stood off in Arcturules' final third after 52 minutes. Surveying the scene, the Frenchman lifted it to Gennady Dvorak
, who however marginally lost out to Huang Ah Yeng in the air. Hoàng Trung Quá
was standing around, however, and few could guess at what he would do, as the ball flew towards him. As it happened, he had only one thought on his mind: hit it towards goal.
Goalie Hisyam Soleh Zain gave the appearance of only having half-expected that, but to be fair to him, the strike was crisp and rather better than could be expected. Hoàng almost seemed stunned at it crept it at the far post, and he had to be prompted by Tian to head for the cameras.
It was steadily turning Grilled's way as Arcturules' press slowly lost its prior effectiveness, and it transpired that the cunning Tian had been saving himself for this eventuality. Suddenly upping his own movement a notch, he surprised the defence more than once with calculated bursts of activity, and put it inside for Low Aik Jia
in the 64th. Hong Yi Soon, who had been nearly unbeatable before this, was caught on the back foot, and could only watch as Low squeezed his grounder past Zain.
With little to lose, Arcturules switched to actually pushing bodies forward, which troubled the Birds more than their conservative approach had. They were unable to hit that extra gear, however, and other than a few hopeful crosses sent in Fuso's general direction, Wong Tian Han
didn't have much to worry about.
For the final ten minutes, Djan Bacelar
felt it wise to give the visitors something more to worry about, and withdrew Dvorak for a fresh Rinor Isufi
. The Albanian wasted no time in demanding the ball, and indeed made some scary-looking runs at the heart of the Arcturules defence, but ultimately couldn't fix his recent scoring drought.