The Birds' league win streak entered double digits, with their 4-1 away win at the Blue Planetarium that was however rather closer than the final result might have suggested. Their hosts had just held -= Manchester United =- goalless, and Italian head coach Gianfranco Musoni wasn't about to depart from that philosophy. As an additional boost, goalkeeper Michele Sarchiapone would be returning after a troubling foot injury, likewise leftback Mohd Hafizi Mohd Hazmi, who took over from fellow trainee Wong Rong Yew.
There was an intensity about the Robbie Football Club players that manifested itself in rough-and-tumble close marking, with referee Alessandro Schroeder set on letting the game flow as much as possible. While some Grilled men such as Moey Xin Seng
gave back as hard as they got, it was harder on others like Vikram Mudaliar
, who found it impossible to run with ball at feet for very far; loud protests from the Birds after Mudaliar got flattened by two defenders in the 19th minute would have an effect on Schroeder finally, and he would summon the captains to reiterate some ground rules.
It was perhaps not by chance that Grilled would open the scoring a few minutes after that, with Moey going it himself as the RFC defence converging on the other forwards. The Number Seven gave up looking for the cross, and stroked it between Dániel Beraczka's legs; it certainly wasn't the strongest of shots, but the surprise factor was enough for it to just beat Sarchiapone.
Robbie Football Club were staying solid despite that setback, and truth be told, that half-chance was as much as the Birds managed in the first half an hour. Florus Romijn
would be booked for a cynical foul on Ignacio Cebreiros in the 33rd minute as the hosts threatened to break, but this would be followed by a nearly-successful counter from Cyril Künzler
on the other wing. Künzler was just getting into his element, and it would be 2-0 after he rinsed Mohd Hafizi Mohd Hazmi, as the youngster made the mistake of not sticking tightly enough.
No longer able to afford to wait to pick their shots, Robbie Football Club loosened their strike policy, and captain Tomasz Krużołek duly pulled one back with a beautiful thirty-yarder that whooshed beyond Massoud Dob
, his landmark century; there could have been an equalizer as Beraczka sought to use the same blocked vision trick that Moey had pulled off, but Dob got a hand to that. There would be a final Grilled attack in time added on, which ended with Chow Rong Yao hacking Neeraj Muthyala
's effort off the line.
There could indeed be no complaints from the audience about the entertainment on show, even if the home support couldn't have been too happy about being behind. It would get worse for them four minutes after the restart, as Chan Ze Han
played a simple yet devastatingly-effective one-two with Moey Xin Seng
. Chow was left in no position to attempt an immediate tackle, and Chan lashed a merciless finish that Sarchiapone's block could only redirect into the roof of the net.
A relatively placid period followed with Grilled content to play keep-ball, while leaving Mudaliar to keep the Robbie defence honest with his distracting forward runs. Robbie Football Club would seek to test Yuta Nakakita
after he replaced Bhavya Panigrahi
on the hour, but their best long-range attempts, from Chow Rong Yao and Frank Sandmann, wouldn't challenge Massoud Dob
It was then lights out for the home team, as Chu Xin Lee
combined brilliantly with Moey, gradually inching inwards from the left. Chu had hardly caught the eye before this move, but his anticipation of where Moey would flick the ball on was nothing less than perfect, on this occasion. This left him with a surfeit of time, which he made full use of in curling it past Sarchiapone with impressive grace.
The hosts could have gone further behind as Cyril Künzler
lit it up down the right once more, but survived thanks to an intelligent interception by Chow, who was organizing the defence pretty well for his age. Bernie Egan
would get some minutes in by coming on for Moey Xin Seng
towards the end, with Moey surely having established himself as legitimate competition for Kalki Parvatheneni's position in the Grilled strikeforce.