Automat Achieve One
Vikram Chases Boot
West Coast Point Automat might be heading for dissolution, but they did at least come up with a home goal against the Birds, as a tribute to their supporters. They certainly didn't lack for fans, whom once again packed their cosy 29,200-seater stadium, and who never fell wholly quiet whilst the ball remained in play.
Their loudest cheers were reserved for loyalists RV Banothu and Anish Phansalkar, both of whom have been with Automat from the start of their careers, and who now look set to retire after helping them to their best-ever league finish last season - fifth in Division Two. Other than them and Joonas Kärkkäinen, however, Automat were basically running on a skeleton crew, certainly nothing that should hold for long against a motivated Grilled XI.
Not even the most optimistic of the diehards could reasonably expect a result here, not when the team's only wins in II.4 this term had come against a restructuring KingofNoobs United nailed to the basement. Goals, however, was another matter, as they had failed to score only against the Big Dogs, and Grilled themselves, moreover on away trips. Automat's pride - their front trio - could grace either of these sides without being too out of place, honestly speaking.
The big picture wouldn't be far removed from their 0-7 whipping at The Cooking Pot, that said, and it was soon clear that Grilled were going to open the scoring sooner rather than later. Chan Ze Han
might have started in an unaccustomed left wing role, but he would be none the worse for that, and was in fact Grilled's most productive player bombing forward. Fifteen minutes in, Chan would float it across to Bilal Mohammad Harun
, who parlayed a great chest takedown into a mighty strike past Antoni Montblanch.
Automat were still sort of in it, as the Birds' urgency fell, and their second goal would only come in the 38th minute. 39 year-old French defender Raphaël Chedeville had been left alone with Chan Ze Han
, with predictable results. The home team's big moment would then arrive, as RV Banothu did well to hold it up long enough for support to come. Tomasz Pergół had eyes only for goal as he went the direct route, and slipped it beyond Massoud Dob
before Gilbert Webb
could catch up.
That had the home stands singing well into the interval, after which Grilled reappeared with Bhavya Panigrahi
in Yuta Nakakita
's place. There were many implorations for an equalizer, but Grilled would get their act together, and Webb's boldness in advancing would be rewarded with a nice chipped goal in the 51st.
wouldn't assume that Grilled had it wrapped up, though, and after Chan Ze Han
displayed signs of having overexerted himself running up and down the wing, he would be substituted for specialist Heng Dong Chu
on the hour. And it would be an inspired entry too, as Heng blew Automat captain Scobie Charles away, with an immediate touchline-hugging sprint. This led into a majestic cross, met by Neeraj Muthyala
with the side of his head for a dipping header into the bottom corner for 4-1.
With Heng's new legs, the Birds were catching a second wind, and Bernie Egan
's close-range attempt into Montblanch's parry would be bundled back over the line by a worked-up Moey Xin Seng
. The hosts were hardly chanting as loudly by now, but they managed to raise their voices as a long ball appeared headed into space for Phansalkar... only for Panigrahi to get there first and turn it into a central movement that Vikram Mudaliar
would break clear and score from.
Mudaliar certainly wasn't about to stop for Genésio Guarino to receive treatment in the 73rd minute, and his resulting second goal would be roundly booed by the Automat crowd - not that he showed any signs of minding. The fans would however get a little more of their own back in the final minute, by whistling wildly as Mudaliar was substituted and had to troop off without his hat-trick.