It was Grilled's turn to host a Sri Lankan side, and they would have III.14 representatives FC LANKA CLUB over at The Cooking Pot for a kickabout. Under the same management as former Nicaraguan national champions Granada Football, FC LANKA CLUB weren't about to exert themselves too much for this friendly, although they did feature star left winger Eric Prasanna together with regular captain Manoj Attygalle in attack. 42 year-old former player-coach Janitha De Zoysa would don the armband instead, in his official farewell.
The Birds, for their part, would line up in a slightly-unfamiliar 3-5-2, that had José Luiz Velho
and Chirag Thevar
in the strange position of defending. The lion's share of applause was reserved for the returning Kalki Parvathaneni
, who had spent nearly a fortnight out with an aggravated knee injury - he didn't seem to have lost much of his sharpness, as he needled a pass through on his very first touch of the game, which young Dutch keeper Jacob Leijten had to wipe Chan Ze Han
out to claim.
Appeals for a penalty went unheeded then, but the 4000-odd attendees wouldn't have long to wait, for the visitors' goal to be breached. LANKA were being rather careless with their tackles, and French referee Samuel Robinet couldn't let Chiranjeev Valiathan's bump on Prokop Mottl
go, just like that. In the absence of Cyril Künzler
, Bhavya Panigrahi
was Grilled's designated free-kick taker, and he winged it just under the crossbar without requiring the posturing of a dummy run.
LANKA didn't let up on their hard-biting approach just because of that, and Kalki would find himself on the end of more than a few possibly-illegal tackles. Vietnamese defender Hoàng Trung Quá
would shave the bar with his arcing header 16 minutes in, but it would be Panigrahi who would make it 2-0. There was no question of Kalki being hacked down in the box by Nicholas Premaratne then, and Grilled's newest centreback would outfox Leijten, by blasting the penalty right down the middle.
Not everybody had a great day, sadly, least of all Grilled's former Irish international Bernie Egan
, who badly jarred his shooting foot in sending a fine effort just high. Egan's season had already been disrupted by an injury to that leg against Mia San Toa Payoh, and despite mostly-serviceable outings since then, he had not quite worked his way back into the first team. This new setback would do him no favours, as the incoming Gilbert Webb
solemnly expressed his condolences.
Egan's departure didn't hold Grilled back much if at all, with Webb easing into a sweeper role, which freed Chan Ze Han
and Moey Xin Seng
to do yet more damage. Chan not managing to score in the first half was all down to LANKA's tireless marking, what with Sasindu Sirisena and Kasun Paranavithana often doubling up on the Birds icon. They couldn't keep it up forever, though, and Panigrahi's searching low cross from the right would lead to Chan's slide-in for the third.
The other side of the fiercely-competitive Chan's game then showed through straight after the restart, as he launched himself two-footed at Attygalle, who had released the ball a split-second before. That had to be a red card by the book, but Robinet decided to give one final warning. As for Moey, he would be increasingly involved, but his well-weighted volley in the 61st minute would swing inches wide of the far top corner.
LANKA weren't doing very well int attack with Attygalle isolated, but the veteran made the most out of the only real chance they manufactured. Grilled's so-called defenders were left pointing fingers at each other after Eric Prasanna played it behind from his own half in the 69th minute, with Attygalle freed to go at Krystian Rykowski
. The Polish custodian tried to herd him to the side, but would instead be overrun by a practised double step.
The Birds went on to replace Chirag Thevar
with Jérémy Tarin
with ten minutes to go, and a late surge saw Bilal Mohammad Harun
's direct header knocked acrobatically over the bar by Leijten. The ensuing corner was half-cleared, and Chan Ze Han
found the bottom left corner for 4-1. Kalki Parvathaneni
then made his play for a return bonus in injury time, but couldn't quite latch onto Panigrahi's tricksy free-kick delivery.