Mauled By Carp
Over a decade after being knocked out of the Singapore Cup by the original Carpmael Rovers, Grilled would suffer the same fate against their successor side. A breathless first half boded well for an intriguing second, but the Birds fell away hard after the interval, and it became a question of just how many the Rovers could stuff in the onion bag.
Carpmael Rovers were in their fourth Division Three campaign, after having bossed it in IV.38 for a long time, and remain in the hunt for the title; a narrow loss to Marina Bay Sands might have interrupted their five-match winning streak from the start of the campaign, but given that they had reserved their best midfield for the Birds, it didn't necessarily signify much.
The weather wasn't cooperating, and for a - very short - while, it seemed possible that a dreary nil-all draw might be on the cards.
How wrong that turned out to be.
The players adapted with a lively kick-and-run style, and Rovers' Indian forward Shivraj Chakraborty could have been through in just the third minute, had he not lost his footing at a critical moment. It would be left to Tian Yonghang
to open the scoring after six minutes, as he smartly waited for Doğan Pürşan to commit himself, before stroking it past his exposed left side.
Grilled never quite got a grip on the proceedings, however, and the game remained terribly open; Carpmael Rovers often appeared the better-prepared party, as they worked to pull the Birds out wide. This would work time and again, such as when Costantino Zannoni took Mohammad Ramli Saliman
out of the game with a surprising leap on the left flank. Rovers would take to the air again, and Mikkael Winterfeld cut in front of Valentin Batâr
to level it up.
then gave Carpmael a scare with a devilish free-kick that swung precariously close to the top corner of goal, but it would be Rovers who next took the lead, in the 39th minute. Grilled were again having trouble cutting the supply from the wings, and Dutch striker Dimitri Göbel put in an elegant volley, to score off a flat cross from the right.
This sparked a frenzied final five minutes to the half, which saw Yuki Irie
level with a cannonball a few passes out from the kick-off, only for Miroslav Ďurdík to take it all the way in return, with a glorious dribble. Few of the fans had retaken their seats, when Tian Yonghang
equalised again, but they needn't have bothered, as Christer Jonasson made it 4-3 immediately after.
If this was a great advertisement for attacking football, it was very hard on the coaches, with Luis Alcántara looking as if he might have a heart attack, at times. Probably after suffering through a dressing-down during the break, the Birds came out playing a rather more conventional brand of defence.
This however might have contributed to their downfall, as Grilled's attacking choices were badly limited, with this blunted edge; it was not as if they were ever famous for their backline, and after twenty minutes of slow and unconvincing buildups, Rovers extended their lead through Kwek Kim Kok's sliding finish, against a brave but ultimately useless attempt at blocking it from Gene Filippone
Now two behind with their options rapidly running out, Tian Yonghang
tried to force the matter, but instead got pushed back, and wound up getting ignobly stripped of the ball for Charkraborty's counter goal. The Birds got some faint hope restored, though, when Rinor Isufi
struck out of nowhere, finding the slenderest of gaps between Pürşan and the net with his chip.
It was nowhere near enough, sadly, and Chakraborty slammed the Birds' nascent revival back down almost immediately, with an accurate shot drilled in from another fine Zannoni pass. Leong Wan Kang
came on as Grilled's last resort, but he could only watch on as Omar Gamarra confirmed Carpmael's dominance with their eighth goal in the 81st minute.