Easy For Esinay
Grilled's league ambitions have more or less fallen by the wayside, after they were dealt a 1-3 loss at home, by Jurong neighbours Ramseille Volliard FC. A mix of uninspired finishing and staunch man-marking had Ramseille race to and hold a three-goal lead, and while the Birds toiled to a consolation eventually, this had to be a huge let-down for the some forty-thousand supporters who turned up.
The Birds made a number of changes from the loss to Joke 9, most notably returning Kalki Parvathaneni
and Vikram Mudaliar
to the front line, and finally entrusting Heng Dong Chu
with the left wing. Neeraj Muthyala
would be rested, as he had been against Shoryuken FC. The visitors for their part were on a five-match winning streak, and head coach Yeoh Wei Puay was no stranger to customizing formations, as he deployed his third in as many outings: a deep-lying 5-3-2.
This low block was clearly meant to invite Grilled to overextend, but especially being the hosts and all, they couldn't very well turn it down. If they were more cautious in the first ten minutes, the lack of any apparent attacking ambitions by Ramseille had them becoming increasingly reckless, though the additional numbers thrown forward did nearly lead to an opener. Bilal Mohammad Harun
stabbed a through ball in the 13th minute that was scuffed to Moey Xin Seng
, who alas drilled it a yard wide.
It proved to be a trap, as Italian goalkeeper Giancarlo Buffon sent the ball to Murathan Esinay with a fully wound-up one-handed throw, and the Turkish midfielder was off and away in a pure two-on-two. Gilbert Webb
gambled with an early challenge but only threw Esinay slightly off his route, and this allowed Idrissa Sougoufara to skip across Bhavya Panigrahi
to gain a fair measure of space. The Senegalese Number Nine's strike was impeccable too, sliding as it did in off the far post.
Undeterred, Grilled redoubled their efforts from the restart, but fate would play a cruel joke on them, after Chu Xin Lee
's laudable try from the left side of the box was thumped off the line by Leopold Lõhmus; the initial force was such that the clearance went all the way to Grilled's half, with Esinay stealing a march on a horde of Grilled players. Davlatov and Webb weren't slowpokes, but they weren't fast enough to catch an Esinay with a five-yard headstart, and he would draw Dob out expertly before plonking the 2-0 goal in.
What might have made it harder to bear was that this 5-3-2 was clearly a foreign formation for the visitors, who passed up several excellent breakaway opportunities mostly due to their players not knowing where their teammates were supposed to be. Still, it wasn't as if they had done badly, and the Birds would suffer another setback when Kalki Parvathaneni
jarred his right knee stretching into a block, around the half-hour mark. He was unable to continue after a period on the sidelines, leading to a fired-up Chan Ze Han
Chan's unyielding never-say-die attitude, in fact, made him the obvious reinforcement in this situation, but even he was not immune to the theme of the day. He did everything right in rallying the troops to opening a path for himself barely two minutes after coming on, but his effort wafed tantalizingly across the top of the goalmouth, before landing with Erkki Nylander in an ideal position to spark a counter. Nylander delivered it straight down the middle for Esinay, who all but made a carbon copy of his earlier run.
Having been taken in by the most elementary route-one football thrice already, Grilled finally resolved to revert to their initial temperence, but this also meant that they found it extremely difficult to get past Ramseille's multiple lines - and the visitors were certainly more than happy to wait for the Birds to try. Half-time came and went with not even an attempt on target by Grilled, save for what amounted to a pass to Buffon from Heng Dong Chu
that was borne more out of a lack of options than anything.
Still, Grilled were slowly and painstakingly making headway, and they wound begin to unweave Ramiselle's packed defence with incisive dribbling. Moey would again manage to craft a bone-fide chance in the 68th minute, as he ordered and received a prompt reverse pass from Chan Ze Han
, as he bombed forward into the penalty area. Hugo Lamm just about got a toe to the final shot, sadly, and he would receive a hero's sendoff from his peers after having to leave due to slightly tearing his calf muscles in the process.
21 year-old birthday boy Teo Ah Jia looked a little out of place as he took his post for the corner, which was partially cleared and then pinged off the crossbar by an unhesitating Chu Xin Lee
. The Birds' reward would finally come on the third attempt, as Webb sent a low drive through a forest of legs to beat the unsighted Buffon. Replays suggested that Aleksander Szczypkowski might have gotted the last minor touch, but the Polish centreback wasn't about to contest Webb's claim.
Noubaryan attempted to shake things up further by bringing Bernie Egan
on for Vukram Mudaliar with ten minutes remaining, before allowing Hoàng Trung Quá
his first run-out in months. This could actually have paid off, with Chan Ze Han
testing Buffon in injury time, but in the end Grilled narrowly escaped a hat-trick from Esinay, as the outstanding Turk rattled Dob's left post with a monstrous free-kick that was the last act of the match.