Grilled participated in a local friendly for the first time in a long while, as they accepted BENG UTD's open challenge, to set up a third division matchup. It would be Grilled's first visit to their 65000-seater ZOUK CLUB in Woodlands, which probably was savoured more by the Birds support than the loud home crowd.
Whatever else might be said, there was definitely no lack of party atmosphere, even if it appeared a little at odds with BENG UTD's ultra-defensive 5-3-2. Their head coach José Leandro Inchaustegui had turned some heads with his alternation between that and 2-5-3, depending on the opposition, and while the underlying logic might arguably be sound, the players have found it hard to adapt between the two diametrically-opposed philosophies.
Thus it was again today, and the hosts would hospitably gift Grilled a very early gimme, after Mak Aik Yau inexplicably helped the ball behind with his upper arm, with Moey Xin Seng
breathing down his neck. That didn't escape Romanian referee Cristian Manu's eyes, but Islom Davlatov
stumbled on his final step while taking the penalty, and wound up rolling it tamely towards Yasar Abd Ghani.
Chastened but hardly discouraged, Davlatov would compensate with a heck lot of running, as he took whole-heartedly to his cross-training in midfield. His industry helped the Birds to a flurry of attacks around the tenth minute, and Chu Xin Lee
grabbed the go-ahead goal by passing it in after a series of exchanges. Five minutes later, Moey would put Mohammad Ramli Saliman
through with a sweet turn-and-flick as they ran towards each other, and Saliman went low and hard to make it 2-0.
Spirited BENG UTD would threaten despite frankly not being set up to do so, and Bandya Chatterjee would intelligently play for the free-kick, after being isolated holding the ball up on a hoof. Understanding that such chances weren't easy to come by, they arranged themselves en masse for the indirect free-kick, but Rashid bin Ahmad
would get in front of Yap Yao Rong to break the nascent attack up in the end.
Grilled continued pressing forward, with Prokop Mottl
and Dante Tran
perhaps subconsciously compressing the game by edging inwards. This provided Islom Davlatov
plenty to space to pull wide and assist Kalki Parvathaneni
in the 28th minute, and the Uzbek might have kept up his brutally-effective rough-and-ready approach, had he not been booked for a crunching tackle on BENG UTD skipper Yeo Da Keng shortly after that.
Not to be outdone on their own ground, the hosts answered by concentrating their forces in the middle too, but although Alek Quang had some success in dribbling his way out of tight positions, BENG UTD didn't have the numbers where it counted. Chatterjee carried on trying to invite fouls in the hopes of more set-pieces, but Grilled's defenders wisely gave him a wide berth whenever they were some distance out.
This state of affairs carried on well into the next half, with BENG UTD pumping a few defiant shots well wide of the Grilled net. The Birds were in contrast far more circumspect, and were only too happy to allow their opponents to tire themselves out. It all changed in a flash 59 minutes in, after Mottl stripped Pek De Tong just inside his own half, and cut a furious clip straight for the BENG UTD goal. Blocked off by a crowd, he nevertheless slipped Kalki Parvathaneni
past them, leading to a crisp fourth goal for the Birds.
The Birds weren't slowing, and some seven minutes later, Davlatov was again placed in the strange-for-him role of provider. Taking responsibility for a corner kick, he dropped it expertly in the path of the onrushing Moey Xin Seng
, whose single-minded devotion saw him crash several BENG UTD players out of the way in meeting the ball with a full-on header. 5-0.
The home fans carried on non-stop with their singing, to their credit, and a consolation goal wouldn't have been too amiss, given how BENG UTD had fought all the way. Their best chance of the match would come after Rashid bin Ahma faied to cut out Kwok Meng Hui's cross from deep, but it turned out that Yap Yao Rong was unprepared for it too, as he hastily fired right at Valentin Batâr
with the entire goal at his mercy.
The miss was hard for Yap to take, but the match had to go on, and it would be Davlatov who nearly got the goal he too richly deserved, scarce few minutes on. Parvathaneni was hauled down just outside the box as BENG UTD were intent on preventing his hat-trick, and Davlatov's strike deflected slightly off the wall, and inches part the top corner.