~Pollen~, who had picked up the Ruby Challenger Cup just three seasons ago - and moreover beaten Grilled several months back - might have been all but disbanded, but there was yet time for the Birds to provide their remnants with a rousing sendoff. Polish winger Cyril Künzler
supplied the crescendo against the lineup of community volunteers, as he struck three in the final ten minutes towards an 11-0 result.
With ~Pollen~ having lost by at least seven goals in the league since their mid-season draw with Shoryuken FC, this was never going to be competitive, and the sixty thousand home faithful were fully prepared for a slaughter. The bookies concurred, given the ludicrous sight of a double-digit scoreline being offered odds-on. Despite the distance between the teams in skill level being instantly apparent, ~Pollen~'s plucky neighbourhood lads would hold out for fifteen minutes or so, with it down to their pervasive doubling-up.
Obviously, this couldn't last, and a dip in the ~Pollen~ team's intensity would lead to a spate of four Grilled goals in five minutes. It began with Bilal Mohammad Harun
lining it up in the 16th, after pushing the ball from one side of the penalty area to the other, before clipping it straight to Ryan Hung's top left corner. On their next attack, Cyril Künzler
dug a cross out from the right wing under heavy attention, and Neeraj Muthyala
duly lobbed the hapless goalkeeper off the top of his head.
Muthyala would have the fourth by the 21st minute, coming after Bernie Egan
's mazy dribble and strike that figuratively broke Lutfi Mohd Tabrani's ankles. Newly-installed ~Pollen~ head coach Chandran Magotra then managed to restore some order, as slightly-sympathetic Omani referee Yaqoob Rasheed Al-Qatby allowed for a long water break, following Muthyala's second.
It lasted for another ten minutes or so, but the visitors' physical limitations came to the fore once more. It was an attacking fest for the Birds by now, and Cyril Künzler
ripped past leftback and plumber Kwek Kiong Kian after thirty minutes, to place a fifth past Hung. Chan Ze Han
was next on the scoresheet as Künzler collected a second assist shortly afterwards, before Moey Xin Seng
wrapped the first half up as Grilled's forwards pinged it around almost casually right in front of the goalmouth.
Ambitious punters who had plunged on Any Other Score had to be more than satisfied by Grilled's return for the half, but they had to be somewhat worried, as the Birds then trundled on by going through the motions. Chu Xin Lee
was somewhat careless after coming on for Bilal, which didn't help, and as the game neared the 80th minute, the Birds' only shot on target of note was Egan's technically excellent flicked header in the 59th, as he rose to Heng Dong Chu
's delivery. Ryan Hung threw out a big right glove there and deflected it over, though.
The scoring wasn't over yet, fortunately for the punters, and Yuta Nakakita
was the unlikely source of Grilled's revitalization, as he brought the ball up by himself and thumped it home, in the 79th minute. This would be his first competitive strike in over three seasons, and it hadn't come a moment too soon, with the fourth official having already announced Yuta's departure for Hoàng Trung Quá
on the touchline.
~Pollen~ had their one big chance as a huge goal-kick fell to Branson Hoang with Grilled having forgotten to defend, but Hoang reflexively cleared it instead, to the horror of the travelling fans. It was Künzler time after that, as he bent a delightful free-kick around the wall in the 83rd, before completing his hat-trick - and sending a large party of presumed gamblers - into a frenzy by converting a penalty, awarded for an obvious foul on Kalki Parvathaneni
in the six-yard box. There was even time for an encore penalty, thanks to a half-conscious handball by Shashank Phatak, and Künzler drilled it high and right down the middle.