Close But No Cigars
Lost In The Flurry
The interminable wait to return to the bosom of the Second Division will likely continue, now that Grilled have again proven themselves sadly lacking against quality opposition. Not even home ground advantage sufficed to see them past -Blitz-, though they did at least improve appreciably as compared to the 1-4 they had suffered at ReducedToRubble earlier in the season.
It was much the same group that had troubled the Birds for so long, though with the absence of Danil Labutin through his collarbone injury, as well as the restoration of Daniel Ariton to midfield. Grilled for their part had prepared something special, with Mohammad Ramli Saliman
in a playmaking role, but Chan Ze Han
All were mindful of what was at stake, but the match could not be at any point be accused of being slow-going and calculative - Grilled for they had seldom excelled under such circumstances, and -Blitz- also mostly by nature. This roulette led to Cyril Künzler
being brought down trying to swing into the box from the right in the fifth minute. Despite a direct shot only marginally realistic, the Pole would go for it, and Islom Davlatov
heaved the ball in after it was painfully absorbed by Christoffer Ricke's belly.
This was all the bulk of the eighty thousand-odd fans could hope for, and it was a minor miracle that it took almost half an hour more before the next goal, so careless were the contestants in exchanging blows. -Blitz- were certainly far from clearly second best at that, and Gagan Kamat for one again outshone Florus Romijn
in their head-to-head. 34 minutes in, the longtime Singapore national winger drafted past both Romijn and Yuki Irie
, and found Daniel Ariton in excellent shooting shape for the equaliser.
-Blitz- would then find themselves dumbfounded by the immediacy of Grilled's counter, as Mohammad Ramli Saliman
caused watchers to question his absence, with a superb winding dribble up the middle. Caught unprepared by his directness, the visitors nevertheless should have cut out his pass to Kalki Parvathaneni
, but Ariton was slightly slow on the uptake this time. Now in his element, Parvathaeneni launched himself at goal knowing the prize, and collected it with a smooth opening of his stance to target the far post.
2-1 was quite acceptable for the Birds fans, as was the opening part of the second half, which saw Hoàng Trung Quá
more than business-like after coming on for Yuki Irie
. Grilled were pressing hard, often through Moey Xin Seng
, but -Blitz- suddenly turned the game on its head with a strike from absolutely nowhere by Franz Schachner. No reasonable player could have expected anything of the sort when he picked a routine pass up way outside the area, but two steps and a blink later, and the ball was in the back of Batâr's net.
-Blitz- knew when they had their opposition reeling, and Grilled could hardly switch their mindset in time. It took a ridiculous save from Valentin Batâr
to conclude Christoffer Ricke's breakthrough profitlessly, but his defence would not buy him any stability; a couple of minutes on, -Blitz- were back at it again, and this time Mohd Yahya Mohd Abdul Rasyid would nudge the 3-2 goal in, with the Grilled goalie pitifully exposed.
Grilled were battling on, and though their swings seemed rather aimless as a whole, they still managed several serious attempts on the opposition goal. Franz Schachner would be booked for holding Islom Davlatov
right outside the box, and after lengthy preparation, this opportunity would fizzle out in laughable fashion, with Mohammad Ramli Saliman
rung up for diving even before the free-kick was taken.
The game swung back -Blitz-'s way after that mess, and Ricardo Rey would punish Grilled with his usual lethality, after majestically sweeping in from the left. There was about no rhyme or reason as to how it was progressing by now, as -Blitz- gave no signs of pulling back despite that being the obvious thing to do. Moey Xin Seng
must have been grateful, as he bust a thin defence, to keep Grilled within touching distance with a fine right-footer.
Some sections of the crowd were chanting for Chan Ze Han
to pull a superman, and they would be granted their wish - albeit with the sacrifice of Neeraj Muthyala
, who took a shot between his legs. Chan would jog confidently on, but only right on time to watch as Ariton knocked home shortly following a breakdown on the right wing.
Chan wasn't about to give up, and while he might not have been directly involved in Chu Xin Lee
's reducer four minutes later, he certainly added a whole new dimension to Grilled's midfield. Time was, unfortunately, not on his side, and -Blitz- would ride it out to gain a huge advantage in the title race.