Albacity Won Over
Remco Duo Act
Grilled returned to Spain on official business after a hiatus of seven seasons, and ran up a 6-2 win against celebrated Division Six representatives Albacity de la Mancha. Played in a casual spirit, the friendly nevertheless was a valuable pick-me-up for a Birds side that had taken one too many defeats in recent days.
The lineup saw 32 year-old Italian utility attacker Pompeo Bellamoli
appear alongside Leong Wan Kang
, with the usual suspects in midfield. Rashid bin Ahmad
made an appearance too, as a free-roving sweeper, flanked by veteran Hilal Bakhtiar
and a visibly nervous Mohd Jafni Abdul Majid
Like Grilled, Albacity had just been dumped from their version of the Sapphire Challenger Cup too, with frost deacon doing a huge number on them; they did bounce back with a commanding 5-0 home win over Fc. Wii Dragons on Sunday, though none of that side would make it against Grilled today.
Low-stakes the game might have been, but the loud fans were deadly serious about it, and they were rewarded with some delightful stabbing thrusts from their frontline. While not overly creative, the constant in-and-out was hypnotizing in its own way, and Turkish winger Serhat Dinçkal darted past a discomfited Mohd Jafni to crash one in after seven minutes.
The hosts were not quite practised enough to maintain this edge, and as Grilled began to get used to their rhythm, they got a few notable moves in too. An advance over a broad front set Leong up in the 27th minute, and although he would be forced wide right, a bit of quick thinking saw him squeeze in a hard and fast cross. Clark Won
had to stoop to head it, as it came in at an awkward height, but he still managed to put enough power behind it to beat Donny Boelens.
The Dutch reserve goalkeeper could hardly be blamed for Won's next goal, however. After a frenzied few minutes that first saw Kalki Parvathaneni
booked, and then Salih Abu Laila and Mohd Jafni coming close with flicked efforts, Won would take the ball up the right side again. He would elect to shoot after surveying the scene, and Boelens didn't even bother to jump as the laser-guided effort landed precisely into his far bottom corner.
It was a non-step exchange of blows as the first half neared its conclusion, and Albacity equalised through David Almodóvar in the 38th. Moey Xin Seng
would ensure that Grilled took the lead into the interval, though, as the acting skipper drew away from Steven Heyndrickx, to get the touch he needed on Chu Xin Lee
's delicately-placed through pass.
While Mohd Jafni had found his feet after a shaky start, it apparently wasn't convincing enough for assistant coach Luis Alcántara, who put Remco van der Ban
on for him. Albacity likewise exchanged Serhat Dinçkal for Damien Maurice - with Maurice himself making the call - but it didn't take very long to discover which side had gotten the best out of their swaps.
Remco, never a shy fellow, was an immediate upgrade over Mohd Jafni at rightback, and he didn't wait to strike up a dynamic tandom with Clark Won
on the right. Swiss player-coach Damien Maurice must have regretted his decision, as he was completely outclassed against the duo, and a breakdown on his flank saw Remco fire in Grilled's fourth in the 53rd minute.
The Birds for once were improving as the match went on, which might have something to do with their youthful engine. That said, their momentum was broken for a bit around the hour mark, after a beefy collision in the six-yard box between Boelens and Hilal Bakhtiar
. Both had to seek treatment, and while Bakhtiar had forced it into the net in the process, the goal was disallowed for foul contact.
No matter, Grilled were certainly not wanting for chances, at this stage in the game. Despite the protestations of their supporters, Albacity were clearly fighting just to stay afloat, with Pompeo Bellamoli
showing flashes of skill, that had the few visiting fans wondering what might have been. It would be Remco who would profit eventually, as he pounced after one of the Italian's strikes took a wicked deflection into empty space.
There was still time for a late exhibition from Kalki Parvathaneni
, who was narrowly wide with a low screamer in the 77th minute. He would set it right with a spectacular overhead shot two minutes later, and the Birds would sign off with Sandy Fu
coming on in injury time.