Güner Gets Good
By now firmly out of the title race, Grilled were unable to raise their spirits when Ropelearner FC came visiting, and would slip further in a match they really should have gotten something from. Turkish centreback Koray Güner was their downfall, although Valentin Batâr
and captain Moey Xin Seng
would have to take their share of the blame too.
The derby had been delayed slightly as the groundskeepers worked feverishly to drain the pitch, though the rain didn't do much to discourage the attendance, given how this fixture promised excitement. Ropelearner for the part signalled their intent to take it to Grilled, as Hungarian former youth international Dániel Bejczi moved from the wing to partner compatriot Miklós Eszik.
Although Ropelearner stayed with five at the back, defence had not really been their strong suit, and the Grilled support willed their team forward with few reservations. The visitors were particularly tidy at the back today, however, and Moey would be aggrieved at the call not going his way, after Gianluca Dioguardi picked him off aggressively in the tenth minute. Moey would snatch the ball up before attempting to influence referee Tudor Buzoianu, but this only got him a straight yellow card.
Other than that, the Birds weren't exactly making much headway. Sections of their impatient fans would even begin jeering, after Kalki Parvathaneni
made a hash of their hard-earned opportunity in the 30th, tamely nicking it wide with only Dalton Park left. It certainly seemed that Vikram Mudaliar
had likewise made a poor decision several minutes later, after he refused to release an early pass with Chan Ze Han
clearly free, but he somehow beat two defenders from a disadvantaged position, before nutmegging Park for a jewel of a strike.
That got the faithful completely behind Mudaliar, who was utterly sucking the air out of the game at this stage. He would have gotten a second in short order too, had Dioguardi not caught up at the last possible instant, to put in an inch-perfect tackle from behind. Ropelearner weren't content with savouring that brilliant piece of defending, and Fabian Marburg would take it to the Grilled penalty area in a single pulsating counter, where Florus Romijn
fouled deliberately to contain the danger.
Romijn's sacrificial yellow didn't have the intended effect, as Ropelearner pried Grilled's wall apart expertly with their free-kick combination, for Koray Güner to pop up and equalize with a mighty blast. Two minutes later, Ropelearner would take the lead, with Gábor Gém dragging it back to Ye Junzheng, despite Bejczi being the obvious target. Ye's improvised volley was better than it should have been, but Batâr should really still have gotten a hand on it.
With the first half ending on an absolute downer, the Birds could only stew through the break, and they came out with a fresh approach. Returning to the wide game that had been severely underutilised before, the Birds saw Cyril Künzler
get through 50 minutes in. Faking a shot, he passed to Mudaliar instead, who in turn pirouetted flashily past Piotr Widzyk before volleying his second in.
Ropelearner might have been shaded on possession, but they remained by far more dynamic when they actually made it a point to advance, and Islom Davlatov
became Grilled's third player to be booked when he tried to bodycheck Gábor Gém after being beaten for guile. This once more brought no respite, as Ropelearner were far too savvy in this position, with Gém finishing off the chance he made thanks to Jean-Félix D'hoedt's excellent eyesight.
This was altogether too much for Grilled skipper Moey Xin Seng
to take, as he passionately felt that Ropelearner had taken that free-kick prematurely, without even taking into consideration whether Davlatov's act was an actual foul. Referee Tudor Buzoianu warned him off, but Moey was in no mood to be ignored. Hovaness Noubaryan
realised what was coming, but before his shouts could be acted on, Moey had been dismissed.
Grilled's probability of a comeback crashed at that, but they had to first deal with an unrepentant Moey now hurling invective at the match officials. It took several assistants to shepherd him off, and Ropelearner piled on without any hint of mercy. New captain Hoàng Trung Quá
was still trying to organize his side, when Koray Güner smashed an effort that skipped almost mockingly over Batâr's arm.
This was a goal that would have been avoided had Batâr stuck to the fundamentals and put his body behind the ball, and the knowledge of it didn't do Grilled any good, as they toiled to make something against the now-relaxed Ropelearner FC. Chan Ze Han
tried to motivate from the front, but found himself mobbed. With few options left, Noubaryan would task Yuki Irie
with taking over from an overwhelmed Hoàng, with twenty minutes remaining.
Yuki's entrance coincided with a brief revitalization of the Birds, with Cyril Künzler
conjuring out a moment of wizardry from nowhere, to slash through on the right and make it 3-4. It didn't last, sadly, and their last hope went when Vikram Mudaliar
followed Moey off in the 79th minute, for retaliating to some sneaky contact by Dioguardi.