No joy for the Birds in their last friendly of a forgettable campaign either, as they were taken down 1-4 at Shark Hotel by the Rockdale Sharks of New South Wales. The Division Three side ran a counterattacking 5-3-2 that Grilled - again - had few answers to, and forward Ambrosio Baumüller was uniquely poised to make the most of their trademark flat balls out of defence.
It might have been somewhat different had Dante Tran
put his second-minute spinner some inches to the right with Herbert Dickhaupt beaten, but it didn't happen. Instead, it would be left to Baumüller to pick a supposedly-overhit ball from Wikitoria Zorgani out of the air, before booming it in off Dan Seng
Baumüller doubled it up on the very next assault, nodding Andrzej Kramarczyk's cross in - once more despite Seng getting to it. The Birds continued in the only way they knew, crashing themselves against the Sharks' brick wall, and Hoàng Trung Quá
did them no favours with a laughably weak finish at Dickhaupt. Guy Ngahiwi salted the wound, polishing the ensuing counter off for 3-0.
Seng would finally pull off a fine save on the Sharks' next big chance, leaving a leg out to deflect Kramarczyk's effort, but Grilled would get no closer to breaching their backline. Emboldened, Fortunato Nardelli took a dive for which he was punished with a booking, but even that turned out well for them. The ambitious free-kick went nowhere, and native youngster Wikitoria Zorgani's downwards header went in off Hilal Bakhtiar
Satisfied, the hosts would use up their substitutions by the 67th minute, as the Birds continued to show no signs of getting their own back. Of all their players, it would be the unsung Dante Tran
who would bother the hosts the most, and it took an unspotted illegal tackle by Gregory Satchwell to stop him in the 61st.
Grilled soldiered on grimly, but being without a recognized striker showed. Moey Xin Seng
, while his usual never-say-die self, simply lacked the toolset to unlock the Sharks by himself, in the way that a Dvorak, Chow or even Isufi could.
The same went for Neeraj Muthyala
, who was found sorely lacking in finishing instincts, when Gary Plaza could only punch Jérémy Tarin
's stinging volley towards him in the 81st minute; his belated touch spun uselessly towards the touchlines, but then in came Hoàng thundering in like a freight train, to stab it in.
Poor Ryan Quigley got caught up in that charge, and had to retire with a badly bruised hip. Now a man up, Grilled manufactured another chance with Moey slipping a delightful early pass over to Chu Xin Lee
, but the little livewire couldn't keep it under control. Muthyala then had to take Marcell Gál out to forestall another deadly counter, and picked up a late caution.