Kalki Shares Boot
Grilled Birds ended their season on a winning note, whilst securing second place with a 5-1 home win over -= Manchester United =-. Moreover, Kalki Parvathaneni
would share the league scoring title with Real Balmoral's Manne Dehlfeldt, thanks to a timely 70th minute strike.
Though the title was almost certainly out of reach with Mia San Toa Payoh due a goal rush at BCFC, the Birds remained in danger of dropping as low as fourth if they lost here, and Kim Tae Hee FC beat Robbie Football Club. Still, while this fixture has traditionally been close, Grilled had won 3-1 on opening day at Old Trafford, which lent confidence that a repeat was on the cards.
Czech star forward Jan Mrhálek's productive return has seen United transition to a 2-5-3, that has seen them unbeaten in the league for the second half of the season. This was achieved with quite some turnover of personnel, with Nurlan Ablaev
of course having moved to Farmer Bunnies in a high-profile S$12 million deal. In his stead, United would instead boast of Pere Pacheco and the debuting Zoltán Veres - the latter a direct replacement for the recently-departed Nicola Girardelli.
With Spanish midfielder Arseni Bussé also playing his first game for United today, there was unavoidably a suspicion that mutual understanding wouldn't be all there; United head coach Stephan Ströming had evidently encouraged a long-ball game because of that, such that their height in midfield could be brought to bear. The Birds were no slouches in that department, though, and this tactic brought little respite.
Chan Ze Han
in contrast preferred to keep it on the ground, and Moey Xin Seng
looked back to his old self, as he tag-teamed fluidly with Chan. Moey's stifling pressure would contribute directly to a panicked clearance from Sigi Tevreden in the 12th minute that went straight to Chan, who didn't miss a beat in taking on - and successfully rounding - Alben Minev in goal.
There was a physical edge present, and Pere Pacheco would be its first casualty, with the referee initially allowing play to go on after Florus Romijn
had taken both him and the ball in one magnificent sliding challenge. The match would only be stopped after Bernie Egan
had had his go with a weak shot, and Maciej Wawrzyszko would - after reviewing the evidence - book Romijn for the tackle. It wouldn't avail Pacheco, unfortunately, as the Bolivian had to be stretchered off with his arm stabilized.
Ströming's best option was 19 year-old Yong Choon Feng, and though Yong had been showing good signs of promise in friendlies, it was clear that he wasn't quite up to this level. United would soon have more headaches, with Neeraj Muthyala
mangling Minev's ankle as they scrambled for a wayward cross. Minev wouldn't be able to continue either, and as with Yong, backup goalkeeper Karim Mohd Syamsuddin wasn't convincing - which could be explained by him actually being an outfielder.
If ever there was a hint for Grilled to shoot more freely, this was it, and Bilal Mohammad Harun
for one gladly took up the call. His deployment as a makeshift defender in recent months has possibly caused many to forgot his other abilities, among of which is his penchant for occasional powerful, direct dribbling. This worked a treat in the 34th minute, and was underlined by a devastating finish that Minev - not to mention Karim - would have had trouble stopping. Two-nil.
United had evidently accepted that their probability of rescuing this match wasn't high, what more with them having little in truth to play for. Seen in this light, their conservative approach following Grilled's second goal was logical, what more with Mrhálek and Veres always available to capitalize on any defensive mistakes; those had never been in short supply with this Birds team.
Sadly for the visitors, Yuta and Bilal were only too careful, and United's pressing and defending in deep were ultimately antithetical to their own nature. Vadim Brovchenko was forced to foul Muthyala after a bad attempt to get past the Grilled midfielder, and from the resulting free-kick, Kalki Parvathaneni
slipped free to score. This put him at fifteen for the season, more than any other player in II.2 at the moment, and was also Grilled's 4250th competitive goal.
The commentators were still reciting such tidbits, when Bernie Egan
upped it to four, with Romijn the main creator. United had the numbers back, but the activity of Grilled's forwards made them a bother to track. Egan took full advantage by faking a couple of passes, before bringing it into the area by himself once satisfied that the defenders had other priorities on their minds.
Grilled's supporters in The Cooking Pot were singing merrily by now as their team kept up the display, though there was some slight disappointment when club favourite Chan Ze Han
knocked one onto the crossbar, when he had only an unsure Karim left to beat. The fifth goal would eventually arrive via a more conventional method, as Cyril Künzler
's flat cross from the right was polished off by Islom Davlatov
's crashing header to the bottom corner.
United would then pull one back with Grilled getting overly relaxed, which had several of their players strolling casually after Egan's substitution out for Prokop Mottl
. Mrhálek and company had been waiting for this, and a couple of well-coordinated challenges left Yong charging on goal. He might not have contributed much otherwise, but the youngster kept his nerve like an old hand, to draw Massoud Dob
out for the lob.
Dob wasn't happy at the loss of his clean sheet, but on the other hand it might have been overly stingy to deny United some token for their efforts. The fans took it well enough, and there would be an outbreak of cheers as Yuki Irie
came on for Yuta Nakakita
to bookend a pretty good campaign.