It was another typical to-and-fro against Ropelearner FC, who prevailed at Impossibility Camp this time, in the process stopping Grilled Birds' six-match unbeaten streak. The hosts would additionally go two points clear at the top of the III.15 table, but there were costs incurred for each of the parties in an unfortunately ill-tempered meeting.
Seeing as the last four iterations of this derby had yielded anywhere from seven to nine goals, there were few indications that today would be any different, what more with weather conditions all but perfect. Case in point, the bookies were offering a hundred-to-one odds for a goalless draw, rates that were exceptional even in these free-scoring leagues.
The main question was which Ropelearner FC would turn up - the enterprising version that tamed -Blitz- so classily last weekend, or the unimaginative lot that were then shut out 0-5 by KingofNoobs United in the Singapore Cup. In any case, combative Turkish centreback Koray Güner would be confirmed as a no-show due to lingering medical concerns, and utility man Marijan Grgeč took his place in Ropelearner's five-strong backline.
Grgeč soon made his presence felt, from the first corner of the game. If there had been little clue about how the game would develop after five busy but inconclusive minutes, Grgeč's excellent delivery right on the border of Massoud Dob
's zone of influence would provide it. The Grilled goalkeeper not unreasonably decided to stay on his line, only to be beaten by Dániel Bejczi's powerful header from between two defenders.
That signified Ropelearner's ascendancy, and Dob had to bail Grilled out several times in the ensuing action, most notably from Miklós Eszik's thunderous twenty-yarder in the ninth minute. It was not exactly a good start for Hoàng Trung Quá
, who regularly wound up being a step behind his men.
The match settled somewhat after that flurry, only to erupt in the 21st minute, when Fabian Marburg launched himself into Florus Romijn
after the latter had released his pass. That was all the more a head-scratcher given that the linesman was barely five feet away, and there could be nothing but a red card for Marburg. Romijn fared no better, however, and he had to be replaced by José Luiz Velho
- his first league appearance in a season and a half.
The Birds worked their man advantage, but the hosts adapted quickly, and Moey Xin Seng
saw Grilled's best chance thus far blocked by Jean-Félix D'hoedt in the 27th. Their equaliser would come only after Islom Davlatov
had been booked for chasing and bringing down Piotr Widzyk, with Kalki Parvathaneni
intercepting the free-kick. Chan Ze Han
offered himself on the inside, and coolly rolled it past the onrushing Baldomero Huamancayo with his initial touch.
Ropelearner FC wouldn't allow the tide to turn, though, and they ensured they went into the break ahead, credit to Gianluca Dioguardi's outstanding curler from the edge of the penalty area. Massoud Dob
's vulnerability to long-distance efforts would continue to be questioned, as he was also a fraction late to Marijan Grgeč's drop-in free-kick, 61 minutes in. In his defence, both of these were incredible efforts.
They didn't hide the fact that the proceedings were actually tipping Grilled's way all along, as Ropelearner had to huff and puff to make up for their missing personnel. Gábor Gém was playing almost as a wingback in Marburg's stead, and he could almost be excused for tugging at Islom Davlatov
's jersey in a hopeless situation. He did escape a booking, but Cyril Künzler
stepped up to reduce to 3-2 from the penalty.
The footballing fates were swinging violently now, and Davlatov turned villian the very next minute, as he mindlessly tried to intercept a through ball with his arm. With the numbers evened out courtesy of Davlatov's second yellow, Chan Ze Han
took it upon himself to drag the Birds level, but he drilled it agonizingly wide after bamboozling Miklós Eszik with a double sidestep.
Everything remained very much on the line, and Ropelearner didn't fall into the trap of trying to defend passively. Now relieved of some pressure, they began bringing Dutch debutant targetman Salomon Breuker more into play, and Breuker obliged with some remarkable holding-up feats. One of those would set Dániel Bejczi up for a pop, and the midfielder raked it in off Yuta Nakakita
The Birds weren't surrendering yet, and José Luiz Velho
would record his maiden league goal off Cyril Künzler
's fine crossfield assist. It was for naught, sadly, with an electric Bejczi tearing Grilled's flustered backline to shreds on their next drive, before laying it off to Jean-Félix D'hoedt to crash home off the crossbar.