Figuring Rob Out
Vested In Vikram
Grilled picked up their first clean triumph over Robbie Football Club in four meetings, with Vikram Mudaliar
grabbing - some might say robbing
- the three points with less than five minutes remaining. It was a monumentally exhausting experience, with the visitors seemingly more or less out to kill any actuall football, and the bulk of the actual influential happenings would be condensed into the end of each half.
RFC had gone from having Grilled Birds as a bogey, to doing quite well against them indeed, with the Birds only managing a single point from their last three league matchups. The latest - a 1-2 loss, also at The Pot - would see Bilal Mohammad Harun
barely manage a late consolation. Some names would be changed, with S$10 million man Martin Holm and Spaniard Ignacio Cebreiros having arrived only in the past months, but there were no indications that the visitors were worse off for it.
They would almost stun the Birds too. Two banks of five had always been a pain to break down, and Dániel Beraczka demonstrated how deadly he could be, even within his own half. Two minutes in and with few enticing options, the Hungarian rightback went for an audacious lob against a slow-retreating Massoud Dob
, and only a terrific rush and leap kept Dob from being humiliated. Englishman Alf Lamont was actually first to the loose ball, with Yuta Nakakita
admittedly in hot pursuit, but he didn't hit the target, to the great relief of the fans behind the net.
Nothing much happened for the next forty minutes, with RFC unwilling to commit more than a fraction of their men forward at a time, and it took Frank Sandmann to conjure up the opener in the 43rd minute. A brilliant first touch by the German had initially set Cebreiros up, but Cebreiros somehow curled it across goal. Dob's clearance was first-timed back by Morten Jensen, and it went straight to a well-positioned Sandmann, who made no mistake.
It would be as if all the pent-up energies would be released at a go, as Florus Romijn
levelled from a turbo-charged team build-up, before Grilled could mope over going behind. Chan Ze Han
than nearly doubled with a wizardly chip over the top that Wong Rong Yew only just nudged Kalki Parvathaneni
away from, and the counter saw Ignacio Cebreiros again released... but Dob pulled off a top-class save.
Referee Vital Baijot seemed to be struggling to take it in, as he got an extra blow in to end the half, but few could fault him. The second half started out very warily, and never really loosened up till the very end; Robbie's Gianfranco Musoni was more than willing to wait, and with the rain now pouring down, any shallow surprises were bound to be shut down given the extra time available to defenders.
Cebreiros would get a third chance to affect the result, but he put it wide after being presented with a good opening by Holm, with ten minutes remaining. If RFC were content with a draw, however, it was not an acceptable outcome for the Birds. Hovaness Noubaryan
did have some resources on the bench, and he would go for Gilberb Webb.
If some of the fans groused at how a defender could possibly help, their complaints turned to cheers almost instantly, as the goal that they had been waiting for came almost immediately in response. True, Webb was nowhere near it, but Vikram Mudaliar
had it past Li Liang Chi and in the opposing net, and that was all that truly mattered.
This was a severe blow to RFC, who had been so close to making it through, and it was only a combination of luck and goalkeeping skill that kept them from conceding several more. Islom Davlatov
's winding cross would be glanced aside by a harried Chin Wan Teck just before it reached Neeraj Muthyala
; a couple of minutes after that, Li managed a double stop against Cyril Künzler
, and then Kalki.
Noubaryan would then withdraw Hoàng Trung Quá
for Yuki Irie
to slow the proceedings down, with the Birds having met their objective. He might have wished that he had taken Kalki off instead, however, as the forward managed to get yellow-carded - and thus be suspended for the midweek rematch - for challenging Li Liang Chi in time added on. The goalie fell heavily on his left ankle, but all signs are that he will be back to continue doing his job on Wednesday.