West Coast Washout
The Birds steered the course from beginning to end at The Cooking Pot, which hosted nearly seventy-two thousand spectators, who had mostly arrived in anticipation of a comprehensive Grilled demonstration. They wouldn't have long to wait, as Grilled built it up languidly from the back after their kick-off, only to pounce decisively after a minute as Chan Ze Han
whipped one over towards Heng Dong Chu
. A backpedalling Raphaël Chedeville missed the header, and the left winger would score for the second league fixtures in a row, rolling it assuredly beyond Antoni Montblanch.
Grilled remained missing Islom Davlatov
and Chu Xin Lee
through injury, but the team's strength in depth was evident, as they trucked on regardless in their usual style. The visitors, on the other hand, had put up little resistance in a 0-4 home loss to Singapore Big Dogs last week, though French gaffer Jocelyn Place didn't see fit to tweak his starting lineup. Their forward line remained an undeniable powerhouse - the only problem was that next to nothing got through to them.
Instead, it was Montblanch that would be their most important player on the day, as the Spanish custodian became Automat's saviour on all too many occasions. His first big save came in the 13th minute, as Kalki Parvathaneni
was odds-on to double Grilled's lead, after overruning Automat's central defence. Kalki took a second too long to sort his feet out for the finish, unfortunately, which was enough for Montblanch to throw himself in the way.
Montblanch's brillance wouldn't solve the visitors' root problem, and veteran Swedish Anders Erin was left on thin ice in the middle of the first half, as he went into the referee's book for getting his hands all over Neeraj Muthyala
. Chan Ze Han
, while still not back at his very best, remained Grilled's key impetus going forward, and he snuck in the second goal in the 33rd, with Bernie Egan
's movement to the outside peeling Genésio Guarino off, just by enough.
It was Egan's turn for the third several minutes before the break, as he followed up on his own strike, that the goalkeeper had only managed to push straight back at the oncoming forward. This would be the former Irish international's 25th goal for the club, coming in his 68th appearance.
Automat coped slightly better after the interval, as they strove to create space for their forwards to operate, but their window of opportunity ran out without real inroads. It was then the Birds' turn to batter at the gates once more; it wasn't Kalki's day, that said, as his excellent missile to the top corner was batted aside by Montblanch, after 67 minutes. Cyril Künzler
then had his chance from a free-kick clipped over the wall, but the goalkeeper was there yet again.
That left Gilbert Webb
to pick up the scoring slack, with the Scottish defender never overly shy to pull the trigger himself. In fact, he had every right to do so with Automat packing the box. It wasn't entirely clear what he was going for when he drilled it from the side towards nothing in particular, only for it to come off a stray leg, and nestle into the net at the back post. Not that he minded, obviously.
Moey Xin Seng
got in on the act with a drive in the 79th minute, before getting substituted out for Prokop Mottl
before the restart. Heng had another big chance, but sent it way too high, before Hovaness Noubaryan
expended his substitutions as the match wound down.