Grilled overwhelmed Macedonian Division Three hosts Factor FC handily in this afternoon's friendly, as they managed a 9-1 victory before some 7300 paying spectators. It could have been seen as slightly unsporting, from how Cristian Morovan had introduced an obviously-weakened XI of teenaged midfielder, and with regular goalkeeper Clément Hervé as striker to boot.
To be sure, the Birds weren't exactly what to make of this at the beginning, and spent the first twenty minutes or so mostly engaged in a keep-ball exercise, unsure of the correct etiquette against so generous a lineup. The home selection were playing to the best of their abilities, that much was certain, and Lithuanian winger Rūstis Viščiulis definitely wasn't holding back when he all but crumpled Bernie Egan
with a stiff but legal bodycheck in the 23rd minute. This progressed to a goal for academy lad Ilija Ivanov against Eren Serpin
, who was utterly convinced of a foul, and would turn out to be the signal for Grilled to assert themselves properly.
Factor FC wouldn't stand much of a hope once the Birds got serious, though Doncho Cuculov delayed the inevitable by some minutes, playing his heart out with some lung-bursting recoveries. That sort of thing couldn't be kept up for long, though, and Prokop Mottl
would eventually find himself free on the right side, following a neat diagonal ball over the top from Vikram Mudaliar
. Kron Kadiu kept Mottl heading away from goal, but the Czech forward tricked him at the last, finding Chan Ze Han
with an assist from the endline.
José Luiz Velho
would pull no punches with an ill-tempered scythe at Factor FC captain Mehmet Göze, that got him a yellow card, and much derision from the crowd. Other than that infraction, Grilled were absolutely killing it - there would be three goals in the space of three minutes, from Moey, Egan and Mottl, and Velho really fed the indignation with a cheeky flick over Matej Dimitrievski in the 42nd minute. He was moreover apparently about to taunt the home fans, before Moey got to him and quashed that idea.
, who had been lighting up the Trophy of Legends, retired at half-time for Bhavya Panigrahi
to have his time on the wing, which nearly brought an immediate goal for Vikram Mudaliar
. It was almost unfair for Nebojša Keserović to have been singled out by the Singapore international, and the youngster did exceptionally just to stay close enough, to prevent Mudaliar from aiming for the far side of goal; nevertheless, he still hit it against the inside of the near post, and Dimitrievski had to be careful not to accidentally knock it across the goalline, in smothering the ball.
Another triple combination wasn't long in coming, and Moey Xin Seng
started it in the 53rd minute, crashing a sixth home mostly with sheer brute force. It was Bernie Egan
's turn next, and the Irishman took only two superlative touches to complete his hat-trick. The first was a half-volley from Jérémy Tarin
's imaginative pass under heavy pressure, and the second, a snapshot on a loose ball taken with no hesitation, after Kron Kadiu had allowed it to run across him a little too far.
José Luiz Velho
would add a ninth in the 68th minute, to predictable booing from the Factor FC fans, but any true tension had dissipated by now. Yuki Irie
and Pompeo Bellamoli
made brief appearances, if only after the Birds had long wound down their attacks.