Li Pays Price
Grilled's prompt rematch with Robbie Football Club turned out to be considerably less close-run than their league fixture, as they switched up positions, but not formation. The most startling adaptation was goalkeeper Li Liang Chi taking up a sweeper role - a position that he has filled intermittantly, to be fair - but all he would achieve on a barely-recovered left ankle would be to badly sprain his right foot.
One wouldn't have thought this, though, from how RFC comported themselves early on. Dániel Beraczka, for example, completely gave Yuta Nakakita
the slip in the fifth minute, and another referee could well have given the penalty, after Massoud Dob
wiped Beraczka out in claiming the ball. Stelian Herghelegiu was definitely mulling it over, but eventually shrugged off the RFC players' appeals.
There had been question marks hanging over 19 year-old reserve custodian Ritchie Park before kick-off, but he dispelled some of them with his reflexive save against Neeraj Muthyala
's strongly-struck drive in the 14th minute. This even led to a quick counter than ended in a free-kick being awarded, and Li Liang Chi drew an almost-reverent silence as he stepped up. He dropped it magnificently over the jumping defensive wall with Dob totally beaten, but remained a fraction too high.
The direction of the match then took a permanent turn, from a corner kick swung in by Cyril Künzler
; Bilal Mohammad Harun
appeared to have scored from a monster header despite Park's partial block, only for the goal to be disallowed due to a brutal off-the-ball check on Li. Perpetrator Vikram Mudaliar
would be booked for dissent and not the apparently-unintentional deed itself, but this was of little consolation to Li, who had to be stretchered off in great agony.
Chow Rong Yao inherited Li's role as sweeper, and the exchanges continued with the Birds now looking clearly more convincing. Hoàng Trung Quá
lobbed one inches over, and Chow lined up to become an instant hero with his intended volley off Holm's cross from deep, only to slice it. It fell to Bernie Egan
to finally make opportunities count in the 39th minute, as he shimmied his way around Chow to score.
A tad too roughly, it so happened, as Chow received an errant knee to his dangly bits in the process. This time, the goal stood, but Chow didn't, and RFC were out of legal substitutions. Ignacio Cebreiros would also stay on the ground after running into a sprinting Moey Xin Seng
, but Vikram Mudaliar
wasn't concerning himself with the opponent's troubles, and played on to chip Ritchie Park classily.
Chu Xin Lee
had barely had a chance to look about after coming on for the second half, before Grilled found themselves 3-0 up. The scorer was Hoàng Trung Quá
, who was quite pointedly not where he was supposed to be, when Chan Ze Han
chanced a drifting forward pass towards Islom Davlatov
. The Number Ten's better nature came forth this time, and Hoàng was quick to acknowledge his headed assist.
Davlatov then went it himself, but Park really wasn't a bad keeper at all, and got his body behind that sudden strike. Cyril Künzler
would record a rather comical miss in the 55th minute, nearly hitting a warden sitting by the track with his attempt, but he could afford to laugh it off given the position Grilled were in.
The Birds were sitting pretty, and happy to maintain the status quo, and Mohd Hafizi Mohd Hazmi's bid to shake things up with his challenge on Bernie Egan
only brought him a yellow. Hoàng would call to be replaced with twenty minutes to go, after pulling a muscle in his right leg, and Gilbert Webb
was only too pleased to be able to get in on the action.
With Robbie Football Club adrift and not particularly belligerent, Grilled rode out the remainder of the match peacefully, and nearly had Künzler poach a fourth in injury time with an attention-grabbing diving header besides.