Getting It On
The freshly-reorganized City club FC LetsGetIt recorded their first competitive match ever against Grilled Birds, having been known as Clementi Sports Club barely a fortnight ago. Local head coach Ryan Zhu had been timely with his recruitment, and the squad had been bolstered with six Europeans, ranging from rookies to journeymen. While they didn't stand a real chance against the Birds' finest, they made a credible introduction to the Singaporean scene, and even achieved a consolation goal towards the finish - something that Grilled hadn't conceded in the first Cup round, for eight seasons.
FC LetsGetIt's paperwork was evidently not complete, from how they had to field a bare-bones XI without any legal substitutes, but the 18 year-old Heng Ting Han was all but fearless as he led the team out. The hosts' hopes lay mostly on 25 year-old former amateur kingpin Sundar Shetty, though, with the Number Eighteen already having displayed his inventiveness with two goals in their friendly at Woodlands club Liverpool1989. Brazilian visitors Mândÿòcã Vérdë then outclassed them 3-0 three days ago, in a visit that Zhu insisted counted for nothing today.
These were brave words, which didn't take long to be exposed by the reality of the matter. The Birds had started a full complement of regulars, and while Neeraj Muthyala
was rested out of concern for his mild concussion, Bernie Egan
was allowed to lead the line despite his recent foot concern. Then again, this was about the game suited for his recuperation, as Grilled's overall technical cushion ensured that they were seldom rushed for the ball. Lam Yong Feng strove hard against the pace of Grilled's frontmen, but could only be left behind when Egan made his move in the ninth minute, before unselfishly squaring it to Kalki Parvathaneni
for the tap-in.
Egan would go it himself on the Birds' very next advance for 2-0, amidst FC LetsGetIt demonstrating little about how they could get themselves back in contention. They remained willing toilers on the defensive, with their midfield pair of Stéphane Castan and Cătălin Stănică tracking runners without complaint. This, together with a few unexpected stops by Lam Da Leng, kept them from falling further behind, until Egan got manhandled in the box by the goalie, in the 30th minute. The penalty was given, Lam escaped official censure, but Cyril Künzler
dealt the punishment with an easy placement in the right bottom corner.
Künzler took just five more minutes to get the sixth hat-trick of his career, with his second goal arriving via free-kick. This was actually not one of the Pole's best efforts, as he hit it over the wall but towards the middle of goal, but Lam had for some reason parked himself at the far post. It was definitely a rough professional debut for the former truck driver, as he would concede another between his legs, as Künzler blazed past Lim Jie Chi with an invincible confidence.
There would be a welcome stoppage after Gilbert Webb
railroaded Ramón Sanz in racing to shoot, and the Spanish veteran would have to sit out the remainder of the half, as Grilled went about their business. For the second half, Bhavya Panigrahi
came on for Yuta Nakakita
as per usual practice, while Egan swopped positions with Davlatov, leaving it to the Uzbek to play target man.
This appeared a less effective configuration for the Birds, with FC LetsGetIt being far better to cope with long balls, but Hovaness Noubaryan
was determined to see the experiment to its end. Chu Xin Lee
would grab a sixth for Grilled in the 68th minute from a complicated set-piece routine, having already tested Lam with a strong drive that would be barely tipped aside.
No further goals were forthcoming from the green end, however, with Davlatov coming closest of all with an arcing strike in the 72nd that went marginally over. The home team's glory would come with three minutes of regular time remaining, after Vikram Mudaliar
's latest effort had been deflected out for a corner, by Albert Cox. Lam Da Leng's big clearance dropped kindly for winger Kok Guang Min, who went all the way with Grilled's defenders having gone missing on the job.
From how the home fans reacted, that goal had made their day, but Grilled weren't about to let it go just like that. Bernie Egan
, again one of the Birds' standouts, went on the warpath from kick-off, and would have made it seven had Sundar Shetty not matched him yard for yard, before hacking his shot literally off the goalline. Shetty twisted his knee badly in making that recovery, however, and while the supporters highly appreciated his grit, Ryan Zhu must have wondered if the gesture was worth it after all, given that the match had long been decided.
In any case, Shetty would be stretchered off to loud applause, as the 39 year-old Hoàng Trung Quá
entered for Gilbert Webb
, in what may be the last season for the Vietnamese centreback.