Automat No Match
Manuel Easy Mode
The Birds' previous league meetings with West Coast Point Automat weren't close, and today proved no exception as they fell to a 0-7 whipping. With Arrogancae looming in the Singapore Cup, Noubaryan would throw backup goalie Manuel Vadalà
on as a starter to rest Massoud Dob
, and the Italian would enjoy a stress-free debut, in which he had barely anything to do.
On paper, Automat had little reason to be struggling, what with the likes of Anish Phansalkar and RV Banothu probably some of the top local forwards to be found anywhere in the Singaporean league system. Indeed, talents the quality of Christopher Quach had been kept out of the forward line for the past month, such was the embarassment of riches confronting Jocelyn Place in that department; some would have preferred Quach over Joonas Kärkkäinen, but there had never been a huge disparity between them.
The rest of the visitors' lineup left something to be desired, it had to be admitted, and they had never looked at ease on the defensive - which Grilled, and indeed many other sides in II.4, were more than capable of forcing them on. Automat had just picked up their first point against Real ChamWin F.C last weekend, a dismal record that had Place copping much unhappiness from the supporters.
Against this, Noubaryan saw fit to hand Islom Davlatov
his first start since his long layoff, and the Uzbek would seek to try Antoni Montblanch from distance, in the twelfth minute. Grilled's seeming unseriousness would have their head coach uncharacteristically yelling from the sidelines about then, and to the team's credit, they tightened up in response. Automat were really not providing much opposition in midfield, though, and someone would have to score for Grilled eventually. It turned out to be Chu Xin Lee
, who sensationally juggled a dropping pass out of Anders Erin's way, before lashing it straight past Montblanch.
Five minutes later, it would be two with Bilal Mohammad Harun
also coming through the middle to fire home, as Montblanch's day began to get really, really bad. While it was probably a toss-up as to whether he could reasonably be expected to stop those previous goals, his neglecting to come out and challenge Bernie Egan
for a cross that he should have easily won, was an obvious mistake. Moey Xin Seng
knew when to twist the knife in, and he did so with an awkwardly-bouncing drive that wrapped up the scoring for the half, in the 36th minute.
With the result secured, Noubaryan quite understandably looked to preserve more legs for the cup, and withdrew both Chan Ze Han
and Vikram Mudaliar
after the break. This would however lead to what might be the shortest substitute stint ever for the club, as Mottl had just strode over the sideline, and had his head turned to receive some final instructions, when Moey and Tomasz Pergół careened into him. Having taken the brunt of the impact unprepared, Mottl wouldn't be able to carry on, and Kalki Parvathaneni
made it a point to walk onto the field very cautiously.
José Luiz Velho
, having been spared, would seek to make himself useful, and would be involved in Grilled's fifth goal almost immediately. The throw-in from the previous fiasco would be latched onto brilliantly by the Brazilian, and Chu demonstrated an admirable disregard for personal safety, in sliding at least five yards for the far post conversion.
Grilled would re-enter exhibition mood after this, and Noubaryan could hardly tell them to knock it off, this time. Honestly though, the Birds were doing quite well regardless, as their sheer cohesiveness in midfield would carry them through. Yuta Nakakita
was back near his best in his first full match in about a month, and he nearly marked it with a goal in the 61st minute; the full-blooded strike would swirl onto the outside of the goalpost and out, unfortunately.
There would yet be more to come, and Bilal joined Chu on a brace with another direct dribble-and-shoot against Raphaël Chedeville, who seemed convinced that the midfielder was plotting something else. Cyril Künzler
rounded it off at 7-0, as he flighted a curler meaningfully into the top corner, leaving Montblanch faultless for once.