|Season 57||L||2 - 4||Tournament (Group Phase)|
|Season 52||W||6 - 0||Tournament (Playoffs)|
|Season 48||L||4 - 3||League|
|Season 48||W||4 - 3||League|
|Season 47||W||1 - 5||League|
Pride Of The East
van der Heiden Ties
Grilled Birds' bid for a third Ruby Challenger Cup ended at the hands of longtime rivals Arrogancae, though it took extra time to separate the well-matched sides. The Birds' defensive shortcomings would prove their downfall in the endgame, however with chances aplenty to compensate - had they taken them.
Always adaptive, Arrogancae lined up in a 4-5-1 instead of the 2-5-3 that had been held by the Buns, in a patient stance suited to drawing out the Birds. Bolivian international striker Ruddy Lora, now free of the attentions of a Aswad Mohd Jafni
, was given license to roam at the head of the formation.
Grilled's response was to place Neeraj Muthyala
as all but a fourth central midfielder, with Chan Ze Han
and Kalki Parvathaneni
running the channels. This was never going to be an easy task with Tanio Bagazgoitia and Anacleto Rissoto respectively watching like hawks, and the first half-hour would mostly be them being swamped; Arrogancae did the best in this period, with a 7th minute lob by Gisbert Odewald eluding Massoud Dob
, who had to be thankful at it pinging off the top of the crossbar.
The attacking team arguably held an innate advantage in such circumstances, though, with the defenders not being able to afford any mistakes; Grilled were knocking very hard on the doors by the 36th minute, with Chan Ze Han
first dragging a drive wide, and then Florus Romijn
challenging captain Filippo Cornoldi down the left, before settling for a corner - one that Bhavya Panigrahi
executed brilliantly, and that Bilal Mohammad Harun
sailed highest to score from.
Joy would turn to shock and then despair for the Grilled fans soon enough, as they endured a roller-coaster finish to the half. Perhaps aware of his unenviable disciplinary record, Bhavya Panigrahi
was slow to close Cuno Ulrich Dupp down as the midfielder advanced, and was caught in no man's land when Anacleto Rissoto snuck through to equalize. Ruddy Lora then put Arrogancae ahead the very next minute, as he guided a lob over Dob with all the delicacy of a scalpel-wielding surgeon.
The Birds would make it up to 2-2 before going off, fortunately for their morale, with Chan Ze Han
coming up with the goods. Polish wingman Cyril Künzler
had a lot to do with that, as he first outpaced Nicola Abis, and then Constantin Vogler, to peel Arrogancae's tightly-packed defence apart. Chan called for it, and Künzler obliged.
Grilled began the second half the more vibrant, with Künzler having a good path on the right; his cross in the 54th minute was attacked powerfully by Gilbert Webb
, who however couldn't keep the flying header on point. Their go-ahead third goal would instead come from the other flank, as Florus Romijn
burned Cornoldi for pure pace. It had taken all of the Italian veteran's guile to contain the clearly-speedier Belgian up until then, and a breakthrough was perhaps inevitable.
Arrogancae, as before, were instantaneous on the rebound, and the weaker side of Romijn's game was exposed, as Frank van der Heiden stormed down the right. After some cycling of the ball, Lora banged it off the crossbar with Dob appearing to have gotten a touch on the initial shot, but van der Heiden would arrive ahead of Bilal Mohammad Harun
to run the rebound home.
Some caution return to play as time began to run out, and Arrogancae's new head coach Pablo Reznik would refresh his midfield, by having Anacleto Rissoto exchange positions with a slowing Dupp. That didn't affect the proceedings much, and with ten minutes remaining, Hovaness Noubaryan
played his trump card, replacing the hardworking if less-than-impactful Neeraj Muthyala
with a bouncing Vikram Mudaliar
For all of Mudaliar's eagerness, the remaining highlights would be compressed into the added minute, as neither team were willing to expose themselves. Finally, Grilled skipper Moey Xin Seng
would make his move, and could well have won it with his rocket of a shot from afar, but two inches would separate that hero from after-ran. Arrogancae then took advantage to earn a free-kick right at the death, but Constantin Vogler's take would not get past the defensive wall, and the referee would call time right as Islom Davlatov
put it out.
There was no clear favourite as the stadium buzzed in anticipation of thirty minutes of extra time, but the Birds' hidden vulnerabilities would come to the fore. Arrogancae's more passive approach meant that they had preserved themselves better, and they had another gear to explore, that Grilled didn't have. That was enough for Gisbert Odewald to get through just five minutes in, with Moey not quite having the legs to follow him back.
It wouldn't get better for the Birds. Their best shot came in the 98th minute, when Bilal Mohammad Harun
attempted to reprise his headed goal from a corner, this one won after good work by Mudaliar; instead, it would turn into a counter for Arrogancae, who opened up a two-goal lead through Filippo Cornoldi's calm finish. Panigrahi was notably furious at himself for not spotting Cornoldi's move, and it was evident that Grilled didn't have any ideas remaining.
Arrogancae entered mop-up mode after that, and Frank van der Heiden could have added to the rout, after Grilled's defence opened nicely for him in the 107th minute; he stroked it poorly, however. Grilled would have their chance at a rally, as Gilbert Webb
threw himself into another powerful header off a Künzler delivery, but Felipe Porras got both hands to it after a split-second of indecision, and held on firmly with Kalki Parvathaneni