Five Star Response
The Birds finally recovered their mojo against visiting Orchard club Talpons, and wrenched five goals to greatly aid their fight for survival. Florus Romijn
was suspended, but Neeraj Muthyala
slotted in on the left without missing a beat, and Grilled broke through twice in the first thirteen minutes to lay the foundations of a much-needed victory.
If Grilled were flailing, Talpons were surely no better off, with their latest league win coming as far back as two months ago, with Aron Zetterander finding the only goal against richlyeng rangers. Since then, they managed not to even score in six resounding defeats, before the return of the rangers last week saw Polat Faris equalize late for a one-all draw. Both Zetterander and Faris would start at The Cooking Pot, but the Birds remained slight favourites, in spite of themselves.
A nervy misunderstanding between Chu Xin Lee
and Chan Ze Han
right after kickoff didn't lend much conviction, but they brushed that off at least. Attacking-wise, Islom Davlatov
made much headway against an overmatched Faris, but still had to doff the ball off on Mudaliar after being crowded out in the fifth minute. The Number Nine took one look, and neatly chipped Vincent Pihan, to a roar of approval from the thirsty Grilled fans.
Talpons, for all their less-than-inspiring results, remaining fighters, as Zetterander reminded by bowling Cyril Künzler
over with a shoulder to the torso next. Defending remained a challenge for Talpons, their evident desire aside, and the Birds were getting a lot of time in and around their box. 13 minutes in, Gilbert Webb
of all people was left in a one-on-one with Pihan, and the defender didn't look out of place at all, as he clipped it home calmly.
It was same old, same old for the visiting support, who had to continue watching as Grilled kept on rolling. Belgian stopper Sigfried Trussart was Talpon's best man as he exerted influence from midfield, but only good fortune prevented Mudaliar and Chan's excellent attempts from going in, with Kalki Parvathaneni
slightly embarassed on the latter follow-up. Physically, it was a contest all right, with Bilal Mohammad Harun
and Ratmar Fürstner badly rattled in separate incidents.
Talpons would have the chance in the 37th minute, with Karsten Agerbæk having the beating of a downed Künzler on the left. It was Ignazio Salvalai's moment to shine as the cross fell towards him, and the Italian striker launched himself into a scissors kick that might well had been the goal of the season. It came off the underside of the bar dramatically in the end, and Yuta was there to punt it to safety.
That sparkling effort was certainly a high point for Talpons, and they transformed it into a perhaps eight minute stretch in which they looked the more enterprising team. No goals, however, but they carried their spirit over the break, which cumulated in a promising free-kick in the 48th, that Massoud Dob
only barely turned around his post. There would be no joy for the visitors, sadly, as the corner was cleared into a counter, that Chan Ze Han
finished smartly for 3-0.
This seemed to deflate Talpons, and Grilled picked up where they left off, with Davlatov doing much of the running. His persistent won the Birds an unlikely corner off Giacomo Maccarrone in the 68th, and Chan Ze Han
very nearly found his second goal with a bullet header to the top corner. Pihan did magnificently to even get to that, but Chu Xin Lee
was first to the loose ball, and smashed it in point-blank.
Chu's goal would turn out to be his last act of the game, as Hovaness Noubaryan
withdrew him, along with Webb, after the festivities were done. Moey Xin Seng
, who had been a high-profile omission, replaced Chu, while Hoàng Trung Quá
took over in defence alongside Yuta.
They didn't have long to wait to get in on the rout, as the restart saw Grilled win a free-kick right on the edge of the box, after an off-the-ball incident in which Avgust Zhaglin pulled Bilal back. Chan tried to set Künzler up for the shot, which turned out to be far too obvious. No worries, as he then rotated it around for Vikram Mudaliar
, who played a neat one-two with Davlatov before finding the fifth goal.
Künzler would win another dead ball opportunity for himself as Talpons reeled, but Pihan again covered his far post well. It would have been almost cruel had Grilled run up the score against such earnest opponents on hindsight, and they would ultimately cool it down towards the end.