Aw In Action
Roseburn Rangers gave a much better account of themselves against the Birds than they had last season, when they were dismissed out of hand by six clear goals in the second round of the Singapore Cup. The number of times the ball hit the net wouldn't change, but the wine-coloured Roseburn would not be left out of the scoring today.
The Rangers' turnover of players had been considerable despite the passage of barely a year, with their Italian skipper Carlo Soderi one of those that had joined up only after the clubs' previous and only clash. Turkish withdrawn forward Tekin Cebesoy, who had worn the armband then, returned behind local striker Aw Yeng Ping. Dutch playmaker Joucke Kroeze, still bearing a strained back from the weekend's nil-all draw with LA XI, was another returnee, as he lined up next to Israeli right winger Yekutiel Gootwine.
Neither of the participants had endured an easy week, although few could have faulted Roseburn Rangers for failing to get past defending national champions Sarcastic Fringeheads last Wednesday. Grilled were if anything only even more desperate to regain a measure of confidence following three straight league losses, which had left their attackers with a case of the jitters, or so the sports page writers eagerly noted.
There wasn't much to back such accusations up actually, with Grilled swarming their opponents over Makan Amirpour's defensive efforts. Bhavya Panigrahi
gave a great impression of an actual left winger, as he kept crowding inside Gootwine. Goris Hermus had to make two stops in quick succession from the Grilled Number Twelve, the second a fingertip save off a Kalki Parvathaneni
putback. Chan Ze Han
would join in on the fun in the 18th minute, but Hermus once again got his body in the way of Chan's sharply-flicked header.
Panigrahi turned provider for the opener, as he played it square instead of trying to get past Soderi, and Kalki was there for the finish. Soderi was on the brink for a while there, as he got booked for a clumsy check on Moey Xin Seng
. Rangers head coach Ettore Scattina was exhorting his team to get the ball away from their own half at that, and they more than obliged, with Aw Yeng Ping equalizing after Hoàng Trung Quá
stretched too late for Julian Löwe's deceptively-floated forward pass.
That was enough for Roseburn Rangers to hold through the remainder of the half mostly unchallenged, which had Hovaness Noubaryan
put Islom Davlatov
on for Panigrahi at half-time. Grilled's Uzbek veteran hadn't featured much in recent weeks due to poor training form, but Noubaryan evidently thought that his natural instincts would be rekindled; he would be proven right, but it would take some time.
Rangers again fell behind to the Birds' assured short passing, which came to a crescendo in the 54th minute as Bernie Egan
popped up from nowhere with Bilal Mohammad Harun
doing his best to shield the ball. Werner Rosian broke off swiftly as Bilal released to Egan, but was a step slow with Egan taking him out of the equation, thanks to a practised switchover to his left foot. Hermus scrambled to close the distance, but the Irish ex-international had long pulled the trigger for 2-1.
Chan Ze Han
could do just about everything but score on the day, with only Amirpour able to keep up with his dynamism. Hermus was his nemesis as he stopped a likely chipped goal on the backfoot straight after Egan's strike, and despite Chan getting to the loose ball first, Sorin Bratiloveanu slid in to protect the gaping goalmouth just in time. Not even the famously reserved Chan could hide his agony at that!
The win would seemingly be assured after 70 minutes, as Neeraj Muthyala
wowed with a spectacular volley, delivered straight off Chu Xin Lee
's short cross from the left. Roseburn were not about to go down yet, however, and Amirpour was again their battery, as he orchestrated a sweeping charge several minutes later. Originally intent on setting Cebesoy up, Amirpour would switch his attention to Tommaso Mazzeschi slicing in from wide, and the Italian winger wouldn't disappoint as he carved out a reducer.
Grilled were having none of that, and they would put the question to rest, through substitute Islom Davlatov
. He had the Rangers defence right where he wanted them, as he bore down with Chan Ze Han
leading the way, and his right boot turned out to be as accurate as ever. Gilbert Webb
would come on as insurance for the final ten minutes, but the opposition were well and truly spent by that point.