Halfway To Eighteen
Mottl Books In
It was anothe exotic destination for the Birds, as they flew to São Tomé e Príncipe, off the west coast of Africa, for the week's friendly match. Facing them off were Division Four outfit FC São Tomé 18, who had been founded by members of Danish club Skyrunners FC. It had been a fairly productive couple of seasons for FC São Tomé 18, though they are likely to repeat their second-place finish, this time behind Team Knud.
While not expensively-assembled, Franco Francisco Rodrigues's chosen XI had its strengths, particularly across midfield - captain Celestino de Martins and the left-footed Urbino Ribeiro Esteves made for an intiguing combination on the wings, while eighteen year-old Serb Milan Ardalić has made himself known as a reliable pivotman. Rodrigues volunteered himself at forward, despite his best days being behind him, to save Semedo Salgado's legs.
Countering the hosts on the wings were Grilled's Florus Romijn
- who had sat out the league due to suspension - and Bhavya Panigrahi
, who will miss Sunday's game for the same cause. The disorderly duo's failings didn't extend to their skills, however, and they were responsible for the first two goals of the day. Panigrahi caught opposing goalie Miguel Marco Topa badly set for a 15th minute free-kick, while Romijn was left unguarded in the 25th.
It was also an open invitation for Grilled's benchwarmers to distinguish themselves, and Prokop Mottl
glittered with an exquisitely-executed stepover against Agostinho Albano Duarte, to ghost past the midfielder for a third. Kalki Parvathaneni
then put in his request for restoration to the starting lineup for 4-0, right before a sharp pull forward by Faustino dos Santos saw Panigrahi commit a bad foul. It progressed to a corner, from which Duarte powered it past Eren Serpin
with his forehead, to great acclaim from the stands.
The remainder of the half was a comedy of errors, with Moey Xin Seng
first thinking he was offside, when he was actually being played on by a defender on the other flank. Milan Ardalić would then put it wide on the counter with Faustino dos Santos waiting for what should have been a guaranteed tap-in, with the forward then copping a yellow card for insisting on another corner. Finally, Topa would prevent another Panigrahi free-kick goal - with his head.
The fans were definitely getting their money's worth, and as for Duarte, it was a day of peaks and troughs as he got utterly skinned by Mottl once again in the 58th minute. That one-on-one mismatch left Vítor Pascoal Araújo unable to venture forward freely, and it would soon be 6-1 through José Luiz Velho
, after Yuta Nakakita
had sprayed a twenty-footer inches wide.
There was a huge cheer from the home crowd as Urbino Ribeiro Esteves backstepped for his free-kick 73 minutes in, but it was clawed out of the air by Serpin, and Grilled's response had Kalki put it in instead. A double substitution followed with Jérémy Tarin
and Chirag Thevar
coming on, and Velho added his second, before Romijn sprinted past everyone to feed Prokop Mottl
Time remained for Milan Ardalić to send the fans home warm, with a neat finish off Celestino de Martins's unchecked advance down the right side. Leonard Nguyen
would be Grilled's third and last swap, right before full time, with Kalki Parvathaneni
's bid for a treble of his own spoilt by Topa's stubbornness.