Mia San Rampant
Muthyala Saves Face
There was little lacking from Mia San Toa Payoh at their packed HDB Stadium today, as the heartland club hammered Grilled Birds by six goals to one. This follows their 3-0 win in the Cup, and it is safe to say that they are leagues ahead of the striving Birds at this point.
Jerry Lim remained sidelined, but as before, Mia San had Tan Tong Leong and Kong Chun Kwang to draw upon. Grilled had reverted to their league deployment, with Chan Ze Han
leading a young strikeforce, but he would seldom have the wherewithal to showcase his abilities, what with Mia San's stellar midfield and home advantage ensuring that they spent most of their time in the Birds' territory.
The match would be won or lost in the middle, and while Grilled's set of Muthyala, Bilal and Davlatov was nothing to sneeze at, the hosts had Joonas Riihiniemi at the very top of his game, ably backed by Ma Xiuxian and Azrinuddin bin Hj Erywan. They were just that bit quicker and more composed, and the scaled tipped in the 13th minute; Dick McCandless found a gap on the right, and Tan Tong Leong sprang into action, scoring as he had against Peru last Friday.
It hadn't been totally comfortable for Mia San, in Grilled's defence, and the Birds would manufacture an excellent opening a few minutes later. A cute free-kick routine from the hosts would be wasted by Kong, and Cyril Künzler
would slip past Oleg Usik with a fine bit of balance-shifting on the return. Künzler pushed it on to Islom Davlatov
, but the Number Ten would tarry too long, allowing Azrinuddin to catch up and work with Aleš Pukl to shunt Davlatov aside.
Grilled peaked around the half-hour mark, as Chan Ze Han
and Hoàng Trung Quá
forced good saves out of Gheorghe-Daniel Stanoiev. That was about it for the Birds, and a period of ragtag defending would be punctuated first by Aleš Pukl's psyching-out of Massoud Dob
in the 39th minute, before Gevanni Abbeloos made the national highlights with a dizzying dribble for 3-0. Adding injury to insult, Bilal Mohammad Harun
would twist his left foot trying to stop that, and had to go off for Bernie Egan
All pretense at competing on level terms would go out of the window in the second half, as Grilled shifted to damage limitation. They had no answer at all to Mia San's fluid one-touch play - but, to be fair, few teams would have one - and a stylish reverse flick by Kong would be the key to unlocking Grilled's backline for Dick McCandless, in the 55th minute. Dob should probably still have saved that, though.
If it got slightly monotonous, the home fans obviously weren't minding, as they sang their team forward. Yuta Nakakita
was perhaps the busiest man on the pitch as he warded off run after run, but it finally became all too much for even him in the 78th minute, when Ma Xiuxian opted to hit it from the edge of the box. Massoud Dob
got down well to stop it from going in at the bottom left corner, but only managed to delay the goal as Mia San came right back via Gevanni Abbeloos.
Aleš Pukl then made it six from the right flank, the first time Grilled had conceded that many in the league, since a visit to -Blitz- four seasons ago. All signs pointed to a very glum festive season for the Birds, and though Neeraj Muthyala
brought some slight cheer with a tidy finish from Florus Romijn
's assist, there was no disguising the chasm between the two clubs.