Tigers' Dark Winter
Grilled sounded the alarm in their latest Singapore Ruby Challenger Cup journey with the biggest victory in their long history, as their reached thirteen goals for the first time, after three instances of twelve. Orchard representatives Winti Tigers could not have expected this, even if head coach Chua Wei Dong had all but given up on the tie, by fielding a second team.
The Birds meanwhile took the contest very seriously indeed, hardly wanting a third cup exit on their books. They started with the same XI as had come out against Nightstar 2, and there was an air of silent menace about Chan Ze Han
as he conferred with fellow captain Lee Yong Meng at kick-off.
Out-of-position winger Chee Kang Yao would get things going, but he wouldn't be touching the ball for a long while, as Grilled went 3-0 up by the 12th minute; Florus Romijn
, certainly their player of the month, would slip it beyond Lee's reach after a simple yet horrifyingly effective run up the left. Vikram Mudaliar
then added another in the very next minute with a flattish chip, before Cyril Künzler
completed the trifecta, rushing Victor Wise from the opposite flank.
There was no question of the Tigers coming back after that, and from how their admittedly not exactly game-ready guys reacted, only the final tally remained up in the air. Veteran playmaker Mah Wen Kuan retained some fight in him, but it didn't go well, as he gave up a free-kick that Kalki Parvathaneni
nodded in on the second bounce. Neeraj Muthyala
had it at 5-0 after 17 minutes on another direct attack, and Kalki was back at it again in the 31st minute, with Grilled's aggressive forward passing from midfield taking its toll on the shrinking Tigers backline.
Mudaliar would be substituted with José Luiz Velho
for the second forty-five minutes, with the match long decided, and any doubts as to whether Grilled would keep on plugging, or start sitting back as they had so often done, were cleared three minutes in; Chan Ze Han
wasn't holding back, and he all but kicked Tyrone Rickman's legs out from under him, in stealing the ball to score a seventh. Inexplicably, referee Asante Ludigo-Mkasa saw nothing wrong with that, and the Tigers were almost beyond complaining.
The goals continued to rack up, starting again from the 61st minute, when Moey Xin Seng
fell back on his trusty header to own from a corner. Chan's thirst hadn't been sated either, as he broke through again ten minutes after that, and Grilled's wingers combined for a rollercoaster ride next in the 74th, for double digits.
Grilled's supporters were sensing the possibility of something very special happening, and the volume at Olympic Lyons Park really began increasing, as Islom Davlatov
ensured that they would reach the twelve-goal mark for the fourth time; he picked the ball off Künzler to score his first, which the Pole seemed alright with, given what was happening. Next up would be an extravagant hit with several teammates being better-placed, but Lee Yong Meng wasn't present mentally, and let the pedestrian shot in under him.
History hung by a thread, one that was duly cut in almost anti-climatic manner by Kalki Parvathaneni
. Quite incredibly, this bounty of goals had not seen a single hat-trick happen, an aberration that Kalki was more than happy to see the end of. Launching himself beyond a spent Li Aik Hao, the Grilled forward reached Moey's through ball with the tip of his boot, and in doing so broke the Birds' single-game scoring record, last achieved twenty-one seasons ago.