All But Down
's warning that Grilled were headed for Division Three all but came true today, as they were left seven points adrift of Arcturules, with five games remaining. Bereft of Gennady Dvorak's know-how up top, the Birds drafted a keen Moey Xin Seng
in to bridge midfield and attack, but this band-aid wasn't going to cut it just yet.
The few committed travelling fans wouldn't have much to look forward to for the rest of the season either, going by how bland the rest of the team performed. Clark Won
getting left out was something of a surprise, given how thin Grilled were getting, though this did hint at just how committed Bacelar indeed was, on youth development.
Moey certainly didn't let his coach down, as he proved to be Grilled's most involved player; Arcturules stuck to the 5-5-0 that had gotten them a draw at The Cooking Pot, however, and with Tian Yonghang
a long way from his best, the Birds were all but toothless when it counted.
The heavy pitch further made movement hard, or it so seemed until the 32nd minute, when Joachim Kapecki knocked it past Mohammad Ramli Saliman
, and took off. Hoàng Trung Quá
stumbled as he made to intercept, and the Polish winger would score for a third straight home game against Grilled, slotting it between Valentin Batâr
's legs for good measure.
Wet conditions of course affected the hosts too, and Mason Chan was cornered into a couple of ugly recoveries, after his studs failed him. A quick change of boots appeared to fix it for him, and a bit later, Arcturules would be two up, thanks to a neat swopping of positions between Kapecki and Kwiryn Skutecki allowed the latter to flash through.
The visiting Grilled support demonstrated a fatalistic sense of humour with their sarcastic chants at this, and Tian for one saw the funny side. The Birds did slowly improve, but the conditions made breaking through a packed defence especially tricky. The best they managed was a dragged-out dalliance all around Arcturules' penalty area in the 61st, which ended with Neeraj Muthyala
lifting it tamely at Quah Woon Qiang.
It was difficult to watch Tian and company battering fruitlessly against an Arcturules side content to sit back, quite understandably given the scoreline. A spent Moey would leave for Chu Xin Lee
to try and turn the game around with ten minutes left, joined by a recovered Yuki Irie
, who however entered with a noticeable halt in his walk.
Chu immediately made waves with his mad charge at a slightly-short pass, which flustered Mikael Åhnbeck into backtracking into his own teammate. The Swede would eventually be replaced by Vincent Spörcken, and Grilled won only their second corner of the game, with Arcturules temporarily down to ten men. Their Japanese-Singaporeans would then combine, Yuki Irie
floating a flat cross in, that Yuta Nakakita
latched onto with a running start.
A tie appeared within reach with that reducer, but such thoughts would soon evaporate. The Birds would overextend themselves quite amateurishly in their bid to equalise, with nobody filling back in for Hariharan Prabhu
after he had travelled the breadth of the field. This was exactly the sort of thing that Kapecki was waiting for, and he entered the breach with his trademark speed, receiving Ko Terasawa's assist for 3-1.